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April 2007 Archives

"Communist crimes are less known than fascist ones."

Communist crimes are less known than fascist ones. While newly released archives from the former Soviet bloc will unquestionably deepen our understanding of the Holocaust, we already have a plethora of photographic documentation, surviving physical evidence, magnificent museums and survivor testimony. By contrast, Soviet atrocities are practically ignored.

The reason is certainly not a paucity of information, as this massive work amply demonstrates. But what sets Hollander’s anthology apart from other books is less its size than its astonishing breadth. Alongside victims from the Soviet Union are East Europeans--from Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Yugoslavia--as well as their counterparts from China, Cambodia, Vietnam and North Korea in Asia, Cuba and Nicaragua in Latin America, and Ethiopia. The geographic spread does not merely overwhelm the reader: Its principal purpose is analytical. As Anne Applebaum observes in her appreciative preface, at last now “it is truly possible to understand the cross-cultural, multinational history of communism as a single phenomenon.” Readers can draw the lines of influence--ideological, financial and strategic--with greater precision than ever, “from Lenin to Stalin to Mao to Ho Chi Minh to Pol Pot, from Castro to the MPLA in Angola.”
. . .
The serious reader will want a deeper understanding of how otherwise intelligent human beings become mesmerized by utopian thinking. The hope is for a global effort to gain such understanding, especially given the treasure of archival documents Russia and its former satellites recently released. Objective, devoted scholarship in this area is critical, if for no other reason than to learn how to approach the threats of our own generation. We must achieve more sophisticated insights into the catastrophic effects of self-righteous fanaticism and the dystopias that invariably follow.

"Utopia and its Discontents," by Juliana Geron Pilon, National Interest online, March 1, 2007, a review of "From the Gulag to the Killing Fields: Personal Accounts of Political Violence and Repression in Communist States," Paul Hollander, editor, and "The End of Commitment: Intellectuals, Revolutionaries, and Political Morality," by Paul Hollander.

Hat tip ALD

Also see "Museum of Communism" - by Bryan Caplan

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April 30, 2007 01:17 PM   Link    History    Comments (0)

"'Young' America has a more 'Ancient' Constitution than 'Old' England"

Because the U.S. Constitution is written and the English constitution is unwritten, according to Lexington Green the U.S Constitution has more "ancient vestiges than the English one." These vestiges include the Second Amendment and impeachment.

"Young" America has a more "Ancient" Constitution than "Old" England, and has retained more of its freedom as a result.

"Continuities," by Lexington Green, Chicago Boyz, October 17, 2005

Other Resources

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April 27, 2007 06:27 AM   Link    Research    Comments (0)

United we win

This is a WWII poster from the Northwestern University archives.

United we win
United we win

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April 25, 2007 06:17 AM   Link    Art    Comments (0)

Context matters II

Earlier this month, Gene Weingarten had a column in the Washington Post about what happened when Joshua Bell played his violin at the L'Enfant Plaza Metrorail station (see "Context Matters..."). The next time Mr. Bell should go busking with Old Crow Medicine Show....

The two years before Nashville were spent hoboing quixotically across Canada and back, then living in self-imposed squalor in the mountains of North Carolina. They brought music nobody really played anymore to towns where no other touring performer would stop to use the bathroom, and people embraced them, fed them, sheltered them.

"Hardcore Troubadours," by Matt Dellinger, The Oxford American, March/April 2003

Wagon Wheel -- Old Crow Medicine Show

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April 23, 2007 06:07 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Wear Your Seat Belt!

We like this post from Jim McDonald about wearing seat belts. After driving a cab for six years and witnessing all kinds of stupid driver tricks, putting on a seat belt is now automatic. Wearing a seat belt is also part of the Teenager Driving Contract, and so obvious that it doesn't need a separate rule, like the 2-second rule. (Oh, and the car doesn't move until everyone in the car has their seat belt on.)

Do you know how we can tell the difference between people who were wearing their seatbelts and those who weren’t, at the scene of an automobile accident? The ones who were wearing their seatbelts are standing around saying “This really sucks,” and the ones who weren’t are kinda just lying there.

This is not to say that all unrestrained traffic accidents are fatals, or that seatbelted folks are invulnerable. But if you’re playing the odds....

"Seatbelts Save Lives", Making Light, April 14, 2007

hat tip Tyler Cowen and Brad DeLong

From the Teenager Driving Contract:

2. Seat Belts. Driver shall always wear a seat belt while operating a Motor Vehicle; and shall always wear a seat belt while a passenger in a Motor Vehicle operated by any friend (hereinafter collectively known as "Inexperienced Teenage Drivers"). In addition, Driver shall insist and require that any person or friend, while a passenger in Driver's Motor Vehicle, must also wear a seat belt while in Driver's Motor Vehicle.

And, as Mark Halpern says,

"Arbitrary laws--conventions-- are just the ones that need enforcement, not the natural laws; the law of gravity can take care of itself, the law that you go on green and stop on red needs all the help it can get."

April 22, 2007 11:17 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Pop musicians are fakes?!?! Say it aint so!

Consider the case of Mississippi John Hurt, the subject of the book's longest and most powerful essay. First, there's his name: Mississippi was an add-on from the record company. Then there's his reputation as a patriarch of the Delta blues: Hurt wasn't from the Mississippi Delta and he insisted he wasn't a blues musician. And then there is the problem of his blackness, thought by the white fans who rediscovered him in the 1960s to be pure and profound ("Uncle Remus come to life," write the authors). When Hurt was "discovered" the first time, he was performing for black and white audiences backed by a white fiddler and a white guitar player who also happened to be the local sheriff. He recorded blues because the record company insisted he do so. Meanwhile, Jimmie Rodgers, a white musician who happened to be a bluesman, recorded what came to be known as "country" music because the blues were reserved by the market for black men. One more twist: when Harry Smith included two of Hurt's songs on his great Smithsonian Folk Anthology, most listeners mistook the black musician for a white hillbilly.

"Keeping it unreal: We consider the 'primitive' music of blues singers such as Leadbelly to be more authentic than that of the Monkees. But all pop musicians are fakes." by Jeff Sharlet, New Statesman, April 16, 2007

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April 21, 2007 12:07 PM   Link    Music    Comments (0)

"The Legacy of the Texas Tower Sniper"

Charles Whitman was a murderer [Univ. of Texas tower sniper, 1966]; he killed innocent people. We should not forget that. In Virginia we appear to have a Whitman-like character. It is vitally important for all to remember that there is only one person responsible for what happened in Blacksburg, and that is the man who pulled the trigger. But in Virginia the diversions have already begun. As I write this, less than a half-day since the senseless killing of nearly three dozen innocent people, Web headlines on CNN, Fox, and MSNBC read: "Did Virginia Tech's Response Cost Lives?" "Parents Demand Firing of Virginia Tech President, Police Chief Over Handling," "Students Wonder About Police Response." Ironically, those headlines are juxtaposed with pictures of law-enforcement officers administering medical treatment and hauling wounded students to safety. Next to those pictures are videos of Virginia Tech's president and chief of police, in pain and in the midst of a nightmare, bombarded with sensational questions from irresponsible reporters.
. . .
Before we identify and learn the lessons of Blacksburg, we must begin with the obvious: More than four dozen innocent people were gunned down by a murderer who is completely responsible for what happened. No one died for lack of text messages or an alarm system. They died of gunshot wounds. While we painfully learn our lessons, we must not treat each other as if we are responsible for the deaths that occurred. We must come together and be respectful and kind. This is not a time for us to torture ourselves or to seek comfort by finding someone to blame.

"The Legacy of the Texas Tower Sniper," by Gary Lavergne, The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 18, 2007

Charles Whitman - Wikipedia
Cho Seung-hui - Wikipedia

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April 19, 2007 09:47 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

Give us lumber for more PT's

This is a WWII poster from the Northwestern University archives.

Give us lumber for more PT's
Give us lumber for more PT's

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April 18, 2007 11:17 AM   Link    Art    Comments (0)

Do you want to improve your research skills?

A recent survey found:

Consumer Search Engines Leave Professionals at a Loss, says Convera® Survey, December 19, 2006

"First, I'd learn how to be a researcher and guide. The sheer amount of Web-based information is a double-edged sword. All this great stuff is wonderful in theory, but wading through page after page of search results is tiresome."
. . .
"Some journalism teachers -- myself included -- tend to overestimate the Web skills of the current generation. We mistake technological comfort with research expertise. However, there's little transferable skill between a well-managed MySpace profile and online research."

"Online Journalism Skills I Wish I'd Learned in School, Part 1," by Mac Slocum, E-Media Tidbits, Poynter Online, April 11, 2007

If you want to become a more effective and efficient researcher, saving your organization time and money, take our course, "Research Skills for the Real World: Going Beyond Google."

Course materials include Peggy Garvin's "Real World Research Skills: An Introduction to Factual, International, Judicial, Legislative, and Regulatory Research."

Real World Research Skills, by Peggy Garvin
Real World Research Skills, by Peggy Garvin

April 16, 2007 04:42 PM   Link    Research ~   Training    Comments (0)


How to make 4,096 noodles in 12 easy steps....

Hat tip

April 14, 2007 01:37 AM   Link    Fun    Comments (0)

"Civility codes" - "No twinkie badges here"

The excellent Index on Censorship has emailed me and a few other bloggers with some questions on [the code of conduct for blogs proposed by Tim O'Reilly and Jimmy Wales]....

My answer is this. I would not sign up to this code of conduct. Here are three reasons, in ascending order of importance: I do not believe it could be enforced; I take exception to the notion that I require someone else's imprimatur as evidence of my civility; and I am opposed in principle to speech codes, which have the characteristic of extending without warning their remit to a new set of perceived slights and insults. There is, for example, increasing use in public debate of the term Islamophobia to denote sentiments supposedly prejudiced against Muslims. I find this concept question-begging and illegitimate. I know how to speak and write in a way that is not personally abusive and is not racist, and I should rightly be held accountable to those standards by people I know (i.e. not a "badge" issued by someone I don't know). I do not propose to tailor my speech to avoid offence to Muslims or any other group of religious believers. All they are entitled to, qua Muslims or any other religious group, from me is a recognition of our common humanity and equal citizenship, and an insistence on their right to religious liberty. To the extent that it encourages avoidance of offence, a code of conduct is not "conducive to freedom of speech". Its corrosiveness lies in the self-censorship that it almost inevitably encourages.
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I see no logic in the notion that defending freedom of speech requires me to extend a platform of my own - my home, my dinner table or my web site - to others to use as they will.

"Civility codes," Oliver Kamm, April 11, 2007

I was doing my best to ignore Tim O’Reilly’s misguided effort to play hall monitor to the blogosphere, wishing it would just go away. But unfortunately the New York Times did not ignore it. How could it pass up a juicy opportunity to make us all look like the louts they all too often think we are? An above-the-fold, page-one headline in today’s paper labeled his crusade “A Call for Manners in the World of Nasty Blogs.”
. . .
These pledges are all the more dangerous because big-media people think they are ethical and we’re not because they have pledges and we don’t. Let’s not fall in that trap. You have to make ethical judgments every day with every thing you do and no pledge is going to help you do that. Your mother either did that job -- or didn’t.

"No twinkie badges here," by Jeff Jarvis, BuzzMachine, April 9, 2007

April 13, 2007 12:07 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

It can't happen here ... mortgage fraud

Not irrelevantly, my wife and I are going to look at a bank-owned foreclosure property tomorrow night, selling for 100K less than both its county assessment and the most recent (100%) refinance. The house next door, I've discovered from the public records, which had a different owner, has also been foreclosed upon. Bank-owned properties are suddenly popping up in the MLS all over Northern Virginia. [Note: This is not a recommendation to buy now if you're looking for a "good deal." It's way too early in the cycle for that.]

"The Housing Bubble--A Credit Bubble," by David Bernstein, The Volokh Conspiracy, April 10, 2007

In national surveys, Georgia has been identified as a fraud hot spot. But Fulmer says that is because people there have become so aggressive about identifying the problem. She says she wonders how many homeowners across the country bought in neighborhoods where values were driven up by fraud but don't know it yet.

"It happens everywhere and anywhere," said Fulmer, who is now vice president of Interthinx, an anti-mortgage-fraud company. "If the true scope was discovered, I think it would cause a major crisis."

"Housing Boom Tied To Sham Mortgages: Lax Lending Aided Real Estate Fraud," by David Cho, The Washington Post, April 10, 2007


April 10, 2007 07:37 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye ~   Economics    Comments (0)

Context matters...

Leonard Slatkin, music director of the National Symphony Orchestra, was asked ... What did he think would occur, hypothetically, if one of the world's great violinists had performed incognito before a traveling rush-hour audience of 1,000-odd people?
. . .
In the three-quarters of an hour that Joshua Bell played, seven people stopped what they were doing to hang around and take in the performance, at least for a minute. Twenty-seven gave money, most of them on the run -- for a total of $32 and change. That leaves the 1,070 people who hurried by, oblivious, many only three feet away, few even turning to look.
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[W]e shouldn't be too ready to label the Metro passersby unsophisticated boobs. Context matters.
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There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.

The article includes video.

"Pearls Before Breakfast: Can one of the nation's great musicians cut through the fog of a D.C. rush hour? Let's find out." by Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post, April 8, 2007

Hmmm, wonder what would have happened if he'd played at DuPont Circle, or Union Station, or GW/Foggy Bottom, or in NYC at the 66th Street Station or the Columbus Circle station ....

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April 8, 2007 07:37 PM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)


OMB's Earmarks database is online. And the WaPo has finished its 27-part series on lobbying.

Also see our Earmarks course.

April 8, 2007 03:57 PM   Link    Budget ~   Earmarks    Comments (0)

Bianchi Milano Cafe Racer, 7 speed town bike - SOLD

We're selling a Bianchi Milano cafe racer in celeste green color - SOLD.

This bike is the ultimate cruiser and commuter. It's light, switches gears like a charm and feels good to ride.

26 inch tires, 7 speed Shimano Nexus internal hub. Built in rear flashing light in seat. Fenders, kick stand, rear rack, bell, small seat bag.

The size of the bike is 18.5, which means the seat height and handlebar angle can be adjusted for a comfortable fit for people between approximately 5'8" and 6'3" depending on inseam. The top of the top tube is just a bit over 30" above the ground, and the specs list standover height as 31 inches. (See "How to Fit a Bicycle," by Peter White and "How to Fit Your Custom Bicycle" from Colorado Cyclist). Frame geometry for this 18.5 bike is available on the Bianchi site here (note that standover height is 31 inches, not 31 mm). See this diagram for frame dimensions.

A darn good looking bike, it's also super low maintenance and very cool for around town riding.

Ridden less than 100 miles. Always stored inside.

This has the enclosed Shimano Nexus 7 speed hub, which can be shifted when stopped - no dérailleurs.

This beautiful bike is in mint condition.

Located in Alexandria, VA, in the Del Ray area. Cash only, bring driver's license if you want to test ride.

If you have questions or would like to see it, please email hobnobblog -at-

Type 7-speed Bianchi Milano Cafe Racer

26 inch tires

Color: Celeste (Bianchi green)
Frame 7005 aluminum alloy, curved top tube, single bottle mounts, rack eyelets
Fork Bianchi CrMo, 1-1/8" threadless
Headset VP, 1-1/8" threadless
Bottom Bracket Cartridge, 116 mm
Handlebars Arc, alloy
Stem Kalloy alloy, 25¼ rise
Crankset Cyclone, 44T
Wheels Bianchi alloy front, Shimano Nexus 7 rear hubs; Mavic X139 N 36h rims
Tires Kenda Kwest, 26x1.5
Front Derailleur n/a
Rear Derailleur n/a
Shift Levers Shimano Nexus, 7-spd
Casssette Shimano Nexus, 18T sprocket
Brakes/Levers Shimano C-Series V-brake front, Nexus internal hub rear / Shimano Nexave
Pedals Wellgo, resin body with anti-slip surface
Saddle Velo Flash leather w/ LED light
Seatpost Kalloy, 27.2 mm
Grips/Other Leather grips; CPSC reflectors; fenders;

Fenders; kick stand; chain guard; rear rack; leather grips; seat bag; pump; bell

April 8, 2007 09:07 AM   Link    For Sale    Comments (0)

Organ donors and organ donation

A new bill would give organ donors a medal. In other words, millions for medals but not a cent for compensation. If people weren't dying it would be funny.

Thanks to Dave Undis at LifeSharers for the link. Unlike Congress, Dave is really doing something to solve the organ shortage.

"Your Congress at Work," by Alex Tabarrok, Marginal Revolution, April 2, 2007


LifeSharers - Sharing Life, Saving Lives

If you or a loved one ever need an organ for a transplant operation, chances are you will die before you get it. You can improve your odds by joining LifeSharers. Membership is free.

LifeSharers is a non-profit voluntary network of organ donors. LifeSharers members promise to donate upon their death, and they give fellow members first access to their organs. As LifeSharers members, you and your loved ones will have access to organs that otherwise may not be available to you. As the LifeSharers network grows, more and more organs may become available to you -- if you are a member.

Even if you are already a registered organ donor, you should join the LifeSharers network. By doing so, you will have access to organs that otherwise may not be available to you.

By joining LifeSharers you will also make the organ transplant system fairer by helping registered organ donors get their fair share of organs. Most organs transplanted in the United States go to people who have not agreed to donate their own organs when they die. That's not fair, and it's one of the reasons there is such a large organ shortage.

By joining LifeSharers you will help reduce the deadly organ shortage. By offering your organs first to other organ donors you create an incentive for non-donors to become donors. As more people register as organ donors, fewer people will die waiting for transplants.

LifeSharers is free to join.


April 3, 2007 06:37 AM   Link    Caught Our Eye    Comments (0)

You have two cows. The government....

We have a list of 2 cows at

2 samples ...

SIMPSONISM: Don't have a cow man!

SOCRATIC METHODISM: How many cows do I have? Why?

April 1, 2007 06:27 PM   Link    Fun    Comments (0)