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
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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
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the energy blog
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kesher talk
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Wednesday, April 27, 2016  

The novel Once An Eagle (also made into a TV miniseries) tells the story of two American army officers, across a time span ranging from the First World War to the interwar years to World War II and beyond.  Sam Damon is a farm boy who has worked his way up in rank: he is committed to accomplishing his assigned missions and looking out for the survival and well-being of the men under his command.  Courtney Massengale is a West Point graduate with something of an upper-class background: he seeks out higher rank through political maneuvering, prefers Staff to Line assignments, and has little concern for subordinates.  The book is widely-read and highly-regarded in U.S. military circles.

In the story's climactic scene, Sam is commanding a division destined to participate in an attack on a Japanese-held island.  He is not thrilled to find that his division has been placed under the command of Courtney--now a three-star general and corps commander despite having spent his entire career in staff roles.  He is even less thrilled when he hears Courtney's plan for the invasion--"PALLADIUM"--which is in Sam's judgment far too complex to succeed in actual combat conditions.

The Japanese launch their counterattack while Sam's division is in a highly vulnerable state, in the midst of the turning maneuver required by the Palladium plan.  And the reserve unit which could have saved the situation  has been redeployed by Courtney so that he can have the honor of being the first American general to capture a Japanese-held city intact.  While Sam is leading a desperate fight for the survival of his division, Courtney is riding in triumph through the town of Reina Blanca.

Sam Damon and Courtney Massengale are endpoints on a spectrum, of course; few real people are as good as Sam or as bad as Courtney.  But still, it seems to be useful to ask the following question:

What is the mix of Damon vs Massengale in each of our current presidential candidates and among other members of our national leadership?

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

2:49 PM

Tuesday, April 19, 2016  

Here’s a story about some Silicon Valley tech workers protesting outside a Hillary Clinton event co-hosted by a venture capitalist and George Clooney.  One might expect that these people are protesting Clinton because their political preferences lean toward the Libertarian or Conservative side.  But then, one would be wrong.

They are mostly Sanders supporters.  And they feel oppressed by the industry that they are in, and especially by the VCs who fund the companies where they work. Here’s the complaint of a 26-year-old software engineer:

“They sell you a dream at startups – the ping-pong, the perks – so they can pull 80 hours out of you. But in reality the venture capitalists control all the capital, all the labor, and all the decisions, so yeah, it feels great protesting one.”

“Tech workers are workers, no matter how much money they make,” said another guy, this one a PhD student at Berkeley.

Now, one’s first instinct when reading this story–at least my first instinct–is to feel contempt for these whiners.  Most of them are far better off financially than the average American, even after adjusting for the extremely high costs of living in the Bay area.  And no one forced any of them to work at startups, where the pressures are well-known to be extreme.  They could have chosen IT jobs at banks or retailers or manufacturing companies or government agencies in any of a considerable number of cities.

Looked at from a broader perspective, though, the story reminded me of something Peter Drucker wrote almost 50 years ago:

continued at ChicagoBoyz

5:58 AM


(originally published in 2010 and now an April perennial)

Chevy Chase, MD, is an affluent suburb of Washington DC. Median household income is over $200K, and a significant percentage of households have incomes that are much, much higher. Stores located in Chevy Chase include Tiffany & Co, Ralph Lauren, Christian Dior, Versace, Jimmy Choo, Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Saks-Jandel.

PowerLine observed that during the 2008 election season, yards in Chevy Chase were thick with Obama signs–and wondered (in 2009) how these people were now feeling about the prospect of sharp tax increases for people in their income brackets.

The PowerLine guys are very astute, but I think they missed a key point on this one. There are substantial groups of people who stand to benefit financially from the policies of the Obama and company, and these benefits can greatly outweigh the costs of any additional taxes that these policies require them to pay. Many of the residents of Chevy Chase–a very high percentage of whom get their income directly or indirectly from government activities–fall into this category.

continued at ChicagoBoyz

5:54 AM

Tuesday, April 12, 2016  

Many types of preening

The mind of the Left, from a former insider

How leftist Western intellectuals are undercutting a Muslim dissident

There seems to be a lot of this sort of thing going on

Drinking on a date has very different effects for men and for women

How a US kid turned into a free-range German child

Related to the above: how free play creates emotionally stable children in an unstable world

An American fighter pilot meets the North Vietnamese ace who shot down his friend

Neptunus Lex described the proper frame of mind for winning in air combat as “personal, like you’re in a knife fight in a phone booth, and someone has to die before anyone gets to leave.”

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

6:59 AM

Friday, April 08, 2016  

In her memoirs, Russian combat pilot Anna Egorova remembered her mother ”kneeling before the icons, as she firstly listed all our names, the names of her children, begging God for health and wisdom for us, and then at the end of each prayer repeating: ‘God save them from slander!’”  She didn’t understand that word ‘slander’  in her childhood, Egorova wrote, but after her brother was sent away as An Enemy of the People, “it was exposed before me in all its terrible nakedness.”

I was reminded of Egorova’s story by a recent article by Richard Rahn titled The high cost of slander:

Endless cruelties have been and continue to be committed on the basis of group slander. The communists and socialists imprisoned and slaughtered many of their merchant and property-owning citizens on the basis of a gross slander, not to mention what the Nazis did to the Jews. In America, blacks, gays, many ethnic groups and women were first stereotyped, then slandered, and then discriminated against. But the fashion of which groups of individuals can be slandered has changed to such people as Wall Street bankers; pharmaceutical, coal and oil company executives; conservative scholars; those who question the global warming establishment; and white males, among others.

The general rule that one is innocent until proven guilty goes back at least to ancient Roman law: Ei incumbit probatio qui dicit, non qui negat — “Burden of proof lies on him who asserts, not on him who denies.” Over the centuries, not only individuals, but whole classes of people, have been denied this basic human right. The oppressors normally begin by slandering a group, and then use the slander to discriminate and ultimately persecute — and, unfortunately, this persists even in America.

If one listens to Bernie Sanders’ rants, somehow all of those who work on Wall Street are far greedier than most other Americans. It is also obvious that he has no idea of what the functions of financial markets are, nor the disaster that would occur without them. Yes, there are plenty of unethical and incompetent people on Wall Street, as there are in Washington and in most other places in America. That does not justify indicting all who work in a particular industry and a particular place. The ignorant attacks on the financial industry have resulted in increasingly costly and destructive regulation, which increases the risk in the financial system rather than diminishing it.

RTWT.  Indeed, much political writing and speech these days is reminiscent of the two-minute hate sessions which were a feature of the totalitarian society portrayed in Orwell’s 1984.  Any day on Facebook, one can see the sharing and sometimes the origination of  extreme and even vile assertions about individuals and whole groups…usually people and groups that are Designated Targets, similarly to Emmanuel Goldstein in 1984.

cross-posted at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

8:40 AM


Claire Berlinski is very pleased with the response to the GoFundMe page in support of her new book ($9700 as of this writing) as well as the strong interest in the crowdfunding investment possibility.
A conversation between Claire and her brother Mischa suggests some grounds for cautious optimism about the future of this country:

See the post at Chicago Boyz, where comments are open

8:35 AM

Sunday, April 03, 2016  

I've put up several posts at Chicago Boyz that I had not gotten around to cross-posting at Photon Courier. Here they are, most recent at the top:

Europe, Crowdfunding, and a New Publishing Model

Is Ted Cruz "Our Last, Best Hope"?

Alternate History

Book Review:  The Year of the French (rerun)

7:59 AM

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