Politics, culture, business, and technology

I also blog at ChicagoBoyz.


Selected Posts:
Sleeping with the Enemy
Dancing for the Boa Constrictor
Koestler on Nuance
A Look into the Abyss
Hospital Automation
Made in America
Politicians Behaving Badly
Critics and Doers
Foundations of Bigotry?
Bonhoeffer and Iraq
Misvaluing Manufacturing
Journalism's Nuremberg?
No Steak for You!
An Academic Bubble?
Repent Now
Enemies of Civilization
Molly & the Media
Misquantifying Terrorism
Education or Indoctrination?
Dark Satanic Mills
Political Violence Superheated 'steem
PC and Pearl Harbor
Veterans' Day Musings
Arming Airline Pilots
Pups for Peace
Baghdad on the Rhine

Book Reviews:
Forging a Rebel
The Logic of Failure
The Innovator's Solution
They Made America
On the Rails: A Woman's Journey

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natalie solent
critical mass
john bruce
joanne jacobs
number 2 pencil
roger l simon
common sense and wonder
sheila o'malley
invisible adjunct
red bird rising
academic game
rachel lucas
betsy's page
one hand clapping
a schoolyard blog
joy of knitting
lead and gold
damian penny
annika's journal
little miss attila
no credentials
university diaries
trying to grok
a constrained vision
victory soap
business pundit
right reason
quid nomen illius?
sister toldjah
the anchoress
reflecting light
dr sanity
all things beautiful
dean esmay
brand mantra
economics unbound
dr melissa
dr helen
right on the left coast
digital Rules
college affordability
the energy blog
tinkerty tonk
meryl yourish
kesher talk
assistant village idiot
evolving excellence
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the daily brief
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bookworm room
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Wednesday, May 28, 2008  

See my post at Chicago Boyz.

8:31 AM

Tuesday, May 27, 2008  

Today marks the 67th anniversary of the sinking of the major German warship Bismarck, concluding a naval engagement that extended over several days and hundreds of miles.

How might this sequence of events have been portrayed by today’s media?

Mr Churchill's Latest Disaster
Editorial…Major London Newspaper
May 31, 1941

The sinking of HMS Hood, and the loss of 1,400 British sailors, is only the latest in the series of disasters that have impacted Britain since Mr Winston Churchill became Prime Minister. Our army was forced to retreat at Dunkirk, resulting in a loss of many million pounds worth of heavy equipment. Our cities have been bombed, and something like 40,000 of our citizens have been killed. Even now, merchant shipping is being attacked by U-boats, and it is by no means certain that adequate supplies of military equipment–or even of food–can continue to reach our island nation.

All of these disasters and failures were a foreseeable consequence of the policy of military adventurism pursued by Mr Churchill..a policy very different from the diplomatically-based policy that had been recommended by Lord Halifax. It cannot be stressed enough that this is a unilateral policy–other nations do not seem to share Mr Churchill’s obsessions. The United States, although happy to sell us military supplies, has been most unwilling to commit forces. Even the Communists in Russia have had the sober judgment to come to a diplomatic modus vivendi with Germany, rather than pursuing a military solution.

Mr Churchill seems to have a personal vendetta against the German nation and a strong personal desire to wage war, possibly as a result of his need to recover the prestige he lost in the failed Gallipoli campaign, which he instigated during the affair of 1914-1918. Or possibly (if we may be a bit psychological), the roots of Mr Churchill’s combativeness may go back even further, to his frustration with the inattentiveness of his parents. Whatever the cause, British seamen…and British men and women in all walks of life..are paying the price for Mr Churchill’s obsessions.

An attempt is being made by the Churchill government to portray the recent clash of naval forces as a British victory. It is true, of course, that the German warship Bismarck was sunk. But few serious analysts view German surface forces as the major threat..the real danger from that country is of course represented by its U-boats, by the Luftwaffe, and by the Wehrmacht. All of these forces are still intact, and Herr Hitler is still very much in charge. So what possible justification is there for the loss of life and treasure represented by the Hood?

And furthermore, the claim to moral superiority–of which the Churchill government has made so much–has been gravely compromised by this affair. Following the sinking of the Bismarck, many German sailors–possibly several hundred–were left in the water. Dorsetshire and Maori did stop to assist these now-helpless former enemies, but the rescue effort was cut short. As is now well known, the British commander on the scene decided to terminate the rescue attempt, based on his belief that there were “U-boats in the area.” The pictures of helpless men in the water, abandoned by Dorsetshire and Maori, are now seared into the British conscience. And it is that image–rather than the earlier image of British chivalry–by which our nation is now known around the world.

And those claimed U-boats? The Churchill government has failed to provide any evidence that such “U-boats” actually were present.

It is time for Mr Churchill to resign, so that a new government may begin to undo the damage that he has done.

(previously posted here and at Chicago Boyz)

7:51 AM

Monday, May 26, 2008  

Neptunus Lex has a video version of the Gettysburg Address. His eloquent post from last year is still very much worth reading.

Also from earlier years:

Dr Sanity on America, The Singularity

Antoine de Saint-Exupery pays tribute to the American soldier. (The St-Ex passage is about half way down the page.)

Scott Ott usually writes satire. Not this post.

Fred Thompson asks "How can you remember something you've never learned?"

Robert Avrech remembers a different era in Hollywood.

And here's a nice picture of the World War II memorial at night.

5:48 AM

Wednesday, May 21, 2008  

That's what Barack Obama seems to think, anyway. See my post at Chicago Boyz.

6:14 AM

Tuesday, May 20, 2008  

Tom Peters has been thinking a lot lately about the importance of resilience in business and other organizations. He offers some preliminary ideas about the characteristics of resilient organizations and of reslient people.

For some reason I can't make a link directly to the post, so for now just go to the top of Tom's blog and look for "Resilience and Black Swans," which is the second post down from "Best Business Book 2008" (which is, interestingly, The Cellist of Sarajevo.)

Tom's post reminded me of a passage in Generals and Generalship by Field Marshal Lord Wavell. After commenting on the British practice of testing military equipment by dropping it off a tower and then burying it in the mud for a few days, Wavell continues:

Now the mind of the general in war is buried, not merely for 48 hours but for days and weeks, in the mud and sand of unreliable information and uncertain factors, and may at any time receive, from an unsuspected move of the enemy, an unforseen accident, or a treaherous turn in the weather, a bump equivalent to a drop of at least a hundred feet on to something hard. Delicate mechanism is of little use in war; and this applies to the mind of the commander as well as his body; to the spirit of an army as well as to the weapons and instruments with which it is equipped.

7:13 AM

Monday, May 19, 2008  

At first glance, the idea of sitting down with adversaries seems hard to quarrel with. In our daily lives, we meet with competitors, opponents and unpleasant people all the time. Mr. Obama hopes to characterize the debate about international negotiations as one between his reasonableness and the hard-line attitude of a group of unilateralist GOP cowboys.

The real debate is radically different. On one side are those who believe that negotiations should be used to resolve international disputes 99% of the time. That is where I am, and where I think Mr. McCain is. On the other side are those like Mr. Obama, who apparently want to use negotiations 100% of the time. It is the 100%-ers who suffer from an obsession that is naïve and dangerous.

Negotiation is not a policy. It is a technique. Saying that one favors negotiation with, say, Iran, has no more intellectual content than saying one favors using a spoon. For what? Under what circumstances? With what objectives? On these specifics, Mr. Obama has been consistently sketchy.

Read the whole thing.

(via Betsy)

8:24 AM

Friday, May 16, 2008  

See my post at Chicago Boyz.

9:09 AM


...by Tennyson and Neptunus Lex.

Beautifully done, Captain.

6:54 AM

Thursday, May 15, 2008  

George Bush:

President George Bush marked the 60th anniversary of Israel's founding with an attack on anti-Semitism, especially by those who want to wipe the nation "off the map".

"We believe that religious liberty is fundamental to civilised society so we condemn anti-Semitism in all forms whether by those who openly question Israel's right to exist, or by others who quietly excuse them," he said.

In a speech to the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, he pledged that the United States had an unbreakable bond with Israel.

"Some people suggest that if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away," he said.

"This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of our enemies, and America rejects it utterly. Israel's population may be just over seven million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because America stands with you."

Bret Stephens:

Is Israel the world's foremost abuser of human rights? A considerable segment of world opinion thinks that it is, while an equally considerable segment of elite opinion thinks that, even if it isn't, its behavior is nonetheless reprehensible by civilized standards.

I would argue the opposite: that no other country has been so circumspect in using force against the provocations of its enemies. Nor has any so consistently preserved the civil liberties of its own citizens. That goes double in a country so constantly beset by so many threats to its existence that its government would long ago have been justified in imposing a perpetual state of emergency.

For reasons both telling and mysterious, Israel has become unpopular among that segment of public opinion that calls itself progressive. This is the same progressive segment that believes in women's rights, gay rights, the rights to a fair trial and to appeal, freedom of speech and conscience, judicial checks on parliamentary authority. These are rights that exist in Israel and nowhere else in the Middle East. So why is it that the country that is most sympathetic to progressive values gets the least of progressive sympathies?

Mark Steyn:

"I have a premonition that will not leave me," wrote Eric Hoffer, America's great longshoreman philosopher, after the 1967 war. "As it goes with Israel so will it go with all of us."

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar:

After we defeat the Zionists we will persecute them… we will persecute them to eternity, and the sun of the freedom and independence of the Palestinians will burn all of the Zionists.

Back here in the U.S., the despicable "progressive" web site Daily Kos takes this occasion for a vile attack against Israel and its American supporters. Link and summary here.

Daily Kos is a major voice--perhaps the major voice--of the "progressive" Left, and the support of its denizens is much sought after by many Democratic politicians.

The "progressive" movement is the primary source of anti-Israel opinion in both the United States and in Western Europe. It is sad and distressing that many well-meaning people still fail to recognize this reality.

8:44 AM

Monday, May 12, 2008  

A Chinese entrepreneur finds manufacturing in the U.S. to be surprisingly affordable. See my post at Chicago Boyz.

5:56 PM


Gasoline prices vs postage stamp prices.

8:48 AM

Sunday, May 11, 2008  

Neptunus Lex, is retiring from the Navy after thirty years.

Sarah's husband is on his way back to Iraq for a second deployment.

Thanks to all for their service.

Lex and Sarah are both excellent and very thoughtful writers whose blogs are worth frequent visits.

8:40 AM

Friday, May 09, 2008  

‘When the crocus blossoms,’ hiss the women in Berlin,
‘He will press the button, and the battle will begin.
When the crocus blossoms, up the German knights will go,
And flame and fume and filthiness will terminate the foe…
When the crocus blossoms, not a neutral will remain.’

(A P Herbert, Spring Song, quoted in To Lose a Battle, by Alistair Horne)

On May 10, 1940, German forces launched an attack against Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Few people among the Allies imagined that France would collapse in only six weeks: Churchill, for example, had a high opinion of the fighting qualities of the French army. But collapse is what happened, of course, and we are still all living with the consequences. General Andre Beaufre, who in 1940 was a young Captain on the French staff, wrote in 1967:

The collapse of the French Army is the most important event of the twentieth century.

If it’s an exaggeration, it’s not much of one. If France had held up to the German assault as effectively as it was expected to do, World War II would probably have never reached the nightmare levels that it in fact did reach. The Hitler regime might well have fallen. The Holocaust would never have happened. Most likely, there would have been no Communist takeover of Eastern Europe.

This campaign has never received much attention in America; it tends to be regarded as something that happened before the “real” war started. Indeed, many denizens of the Anglosphere seem to believe that the French basically gave up without a fight–which is a considerable exaggeration given the French casualties of around 90,000 killed and 200,000 wounded. But I think the fall of France deserves serious study, and that some of the root causes of the defeat are scarily relevant to today’s world.

(..continued at my Chicago Boyz 2007 post here.)

9:08 AM

Thursday, May 08, 2008  

An NSF-funded study, and a response.

(Cross-posted at Chicago Boyz)

12:20 PM

Wednesday, May 07, 2008  

A message to the candidates--especially Hillary--from the manufacturing blog Evolving Excellence.

6:24 AM

Tuesday, May 06, 2008  

Can the literary style of the CEO's annual letter provide a clue to a company's future performance? See my post at Chicago Boyz.

7:16 AM

Monday, May 05, 2008  

Yesterday, the New York Times published an interesting visualization of inflation, which shows both price changes and percentage of overall spending (for example, bananas, .1% of spending, prices up 14.9%.) Unfortunately, it was difficult to read, because the shades of grey used for price increases and price decreases were hard to differentiate. Here's the color version, which includes a useful zoom in / zoom out feature.

Related: A Chicago Boyz discussion on inflation from a few days ago.

6:50 AM

Sunday, May 04, 2008  

The Capital Times, a 90-year-old newspaper in Madison, Wisconsin, is ceasing publication of its print edition and will focus on a web-based version. (It will continue to print weekly entertainment and news guides, to be distributed as inserts in The Wisconsin State Journal, Madison's remaining daily newspaper.) Circulation of the Times has fallen from a high of more than 40,000 (in the 1960s) to about 18,000.

From the New York Times coverage:

“We felt our audience was shrinking so that we were not relevant,” Clayton Frink, the publisher of The Capital Times, said in an interview two days before the final daily press run. “We are going a little farther, a little faster, but the general trend is happening everywhere.”

6:14 AM

Saturday, May 03, 2008  

See my post at Chicago Boyz.

7:02 AM

Thursday, May 01, 2008  

I've posted several times about the bizarre concepts of "self-esteem building" held by many in the educational establishment and elsewhere in our society--see the superheated 'steem thread.

Today, ShrinkWrapped offers some thoughts on the self-esteem concept and its misuses.

7:56 PM

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