Archive for July, 2010

Review: The Forgotten Man

Monday, July 26th, 2010

Amity Shales’s The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression takes a critical look at the handling of the Depression by Roosevelt.  Assessing Roosevelt’s economic policy from the a laissez-faire position is timely, and much in vogue, but such an analysis runs counter to the conventional narrative of Roosevelt’s presidency.  It needs to be exemplary to be heard at all, and this work isn’t quite up to that level.

There are ideas worth hearing here, though.  Hoover and Roosevelt both misstepped on what we know to be fundamental economic principals now, including freeing up the money supply in a recession, and made good faith efforts to get people working again through public works. The difference between the two was the extent to which Roosevelt was willing to push his agenda.  Questions about how far he was willing to push constitutional limits of federal power and trade collective versus property rights are interesting to hash out.  It’s also important to try to assess the effectiveness of those actions – moral or immoral.

As a collection of facts and context, The Forgotten Man is fairly sound, and though Shales seems to be sympathetic to the property rights side of the arguments, there seems to be major hunks missing or taken on faith.  I know this is not an economics text or paper, but I would prefer more concrete facts on the table regarding outcomes.

Similarly, it would be helpful to understand the key personalities more clearly so that their decisions are more fathomable.  Arguments about the defensibility of these actions must have come from these actors, and understanding their motivations and justifications is of considerable interest.  Shales goes more for breadth than depth here, bringing many different players on stage rather than deeply analyzing a few.

The choices of the players who get the focus is pretty unusual.  There’s a running narrative thread centered on Wendell Willkie who opposes Roosevelt in the 1940 election.  Willkie seems to be an interesting figure, from roots in the power utility to the sorts of changes that make a man a political contender, but as a laissez-faire standard bearer he seems to lack conviction and success.  There’s also a sizeable amout of aside time spent on William Wilson, one of the founders of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Again, an interesting figure, but strangely out of place in an economic story.

Now, perhaps I am misreading Shales intent.  Perhaps she intended this as a broad history of this period.  If so, her sweep seems to stick on a few areas; if not there’s many a quirky point that doesn’t seem to belong.

As I say, there are many interesting points made in the work.  I definitely learned things reading it, but, for me, it raises more questions than answers.

Night Music and Politics

Monday, July 26th, 2010

EJ Montini explains why you might run against one of the most popular presidential candidates in decades despite evidently having no voice in choosing your running mate and knowing you were going to lose a month out.  He’s a smart man, my cousin.

And you’re not likely to hear a piece of music described more obliquely than Warren Ellis does.  Nor more accurately.

Hesperia (CA)

Sunday, July 25th, 2010

I thought I’d written about flying to Hesperia Airport before, but it seems like I didn’t.  I flew there again today, so I’ll write about it now.

Hesperia is the airport in a fairly small desert town north of the Inland Empire.  The town is north of Lake Arrowhead and sort of along the way to Barstow.  It was growing pretty rapidly during the housing boom.  The airport is used primarily by the Mercy Air air ambulance folks, but there are hangars and some based planes there as well.  There is also an inexpensive fuel pit and a restaurant.  The restaurant is what drew me in there, of course.

I’d been out to Hesperia once many years ago looking for a restaurant that I’d heard of, but it was closed.  The fellow working the local FBO offered to share his sandwich with me, which was kind, but I didn’t take him up on it.  I saw from our friends at AirNav that there was indeed a new restaurant there, and tried it out.

The restaurant itself is a classic airport cafe: sandwiches, burgers, and breakfasts.  Everything I’ve had there is really tasty and the staff is very friendly and helpful.  It’s a good fly-in joint.

The field itself is kind of small.  There’s ample runway length, but it’s kind of tucked away and there’s not a lot around the airport.  It feels very close to the houses and highway nearby. It’s also in the high desert, so it can be windy and is higher than it might seem.  When I was there today, the density altitude was in the 6000′ range, and it was very noticeable on takeoff.  The wind was gusty though only 10 knots or so.

I took a few pictures.  I love the airport restaurant sign, and found a Cessna labeled with “Realtor.”  I have no idea why you’d need to label a plane with that, but there must be a reason.  For someone.

News Animation From Taiwan Explains The iPhone

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

I seriously need to get all my news from these guys.  Via Boing Boing.

New Tron Trailer

Friday, July 23rd, 2010

The new Tron trailer is up, courtesy of Boing Boing.  We love our CS actives.

Privacy and Unintended Consequences

Friday, July 16th, 2010

Many people are concerned about the liberties that social media, especially facebook, take with their information.  Recently Warren Ellis mentioned that the likeness of a friend of his had been used without her permission in the theatrical trailer for a social media movie.  Her response is awesome, both in that it is simply more speech rather than some sort of suit, and in its content.

Old Spice and the Perfect Life

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Brenda’s in the other room watching The Old Spice Guy.  That’s cool; he’s pretty awesome. But, me, I prefer to kick it old school.

Then again, you knew that.

Lunch and Inspiration

Monday, July 5th, 2010

The June gloom in LA has extended itself to July, and I was hoping to take advantage of it and get some time in the clouds today.  As usual, as soon as I went up, the clouds began their retreat, but I did get a tiny touch of actual in and grab lunch at Riverside Municipal.  The flight out was a good refresher for IFR procedures even though I didn’t spend more than a minute or two in the clouds climbing out.  Juggling the radios, GPS, and other navigation aids is always good practice, even when I’ve cleared the layer.

The flight out wasn’t very eventful for me, but a Delta flight crew was having a pretty tough time of it, to the point where they managed to tick off an Approach Controller.  Everyone’s had a bad day, but when you hear someone having theirs, it makes you determined not to have one of yours at the same time.  Fortunately, my number wasn’t up; my flight was routine.

Riverside Municipal is a nice little towered airport with an old school diner on the premises.  I enjoyed a patty melt with my Pacific Flyer. I took a couple pictures of the airport and the planes, including the apparent Texan who’s modified the Bible verse on his horizontal stabilizer.

After lunch and pictures, it was back to Santa Monica under instrument rules, but without any clouds.