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  • Mike Lotus Speaking About America 3.0 and the Future of the Legal Profession to the Federalist Society Student Chapter at Washburn Law School on April 17, 2004

    Posted by Lexington Green on April 16th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Thanks to the Federalist Society chapter at Washburn University School of Law for inviting me to speak, and to the national Federalist Society for making the trip to Topeka possible.

    This is my first talk as an authorized speaker for the Federalist Society. I have developed a new version of my “stump speech” which is focused on lawyers and the legal profession.

    Please note: If you are associated with a student or lawyer chapter of the Federalist Society, please contact me. I would like to speak to your group.

    It will be at Washburn University School of Law, Room 114, at 12:10 on Thursday, April 17, 2014 — lunch provided!

    There is a flyer for the event below the fold.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Announcements | No Comments »

    SWOT, One Year On

    Posted by Jay Manifold on April 15th, 2014 (All posts by )

    A year ago I was dispassionately composing my analysis. Today, when I left the Sprint campus and drove east on 115th Street to turn north on Nall toward I-435, there were TV news vans with telescoping antennae lining the street at the entrance to the Jewish Community Center.

    Coincidentally the number of dead is identical. There are, however, no (physically) injured survivors, and the motivation for the attack was similar only in that it was intended to draw attention to a cause. I fear that the perpetrator is cunning enough to succeed in that; his previous notoriety was due to legally forcing some radio stations to briefly carry Nazi ads during an election campaign season. Much has been made of the gentile – and indeed seriously committed Christian – identity of the victims, but I believe that was unimportant to him. What mattered was that he seize a mechanism for dissemination of conspiracy theories, and now, given the administrative blockheadedness of the American justice system and the puerile conventions of American journalism, we are all too likely to be subjected to many hours and tens of thousands of words of exceptionally vicious, totalitarian propaganda, varying portions of which will be heard by tens of millions of people. This guy knew exactly what he was doing.

    I could tell that from the video snippets of his arrest, just as I could tell, hours before it was officially confirmed, that he would turn out to have come from rural Missouri (Aurora is nearly a 3-hour drive from Overland Park; he had to have cased both facilities beforehand) and would turn out to be a southerner with prior Klan involvement. It was completely obvious from his accent, his tone of voice, and his attitude on camera. He is now operating inside the American institutional OODA loop. Our entirely proper determination to grant a scrupulously fair trial – when we’re not piling on the charges in order to ram a plea bargain through, that is – will be roughly equivalent to giving him not airtime for advertisements, but his own highly rated nationwide radio network.

    Fortunately, he is also sufficiently sui generis that copycat attacks are unlikely, at least in the immediate future. Should an American Dolchstoßlegende catch on, however, things may deteriorate sharply. The general case is to scapegoat a relatively small, easily-identified minority: it was the “1%,” or twenty-five guys on Wall Street, or the Koch brothers – or George Soros, or Obama/Pelosi/Reid, or the leftist academics on their Long March through the institutions – or (of course) Jews, or Latino immigrants or Asians stealing our jobs. If we just expropriate, or deport, or exterminate them, and everyone like them, the story goes, our country will be purified, and Utopia ensue. The ideology may be Nazi or Communist; either will do in a pinch, as Hayek wrote nearly three-quarters of a century ago: its adherents are uncertain, and know only that they hate Western liberal civilization.

    Just to make things more complicated, tolerance can definitely be taken too far. Interviews with the perpetrator’s neighbors in Lawrence County, Missouri, immediately elicit idiotic postmodernist comments to the effect that he seemed like a nice enough guy but had some opinions that they didn’t agree with. Great. Your assigned reading is here, you nitwits.

    So when blood ran in the streets of my city, did I follow my own advice in the ostensibly-uplifting conclusion to my analysis of a year ago, and immediately redouble my efforts on whatever it is I was supposed to be doing? Well, it was a Sunday, so there was somewhat less of that, although I tend to devise more projects for my spare time than I could possibly execute anyway. But in the event, whatever it may say about me, I felt tremendously violated, as though the murders had occurred in my driveway rather than six miles away. And what I actually did was drink rather more cheap boxed red wine than usual and break down a couple of times. I don’t have any particular aversion to weeping, but I don’t need to do so very often. Turns out I needed to on Sunday evening. The question of how I will react should much larger-scale events occur in even closer proximity remains unanswered.

    The problem, of course, is that this kind of thing isn’t supposed to happen here … which is a rather hypocritical sentiment in light of the actual statistics on violent death locally. A couple-three people a week get murdered in this town, three-quarters of them in an area covering only one-tenth of the municipality of KC, Mo., and a tiny fraction of the area of the entire MSA. Assuming that the said area (34 mi²) has the same population density as zip code 64130 (of which it largely consists), a moment with a calculator establishes that the homicide rate in question – the southwestern boundary of that area reaches to within two miles of my house – is nearly 80 per 100,000 per year, making it one of the most dangerous places in the Western world, and also as dangerous as Iraq before the Surge, which the media thoughtfully informed us at the time was the Worst Thing Ever. Gallivanting off to Haïti is all very well, but perhaps I should find a more local ministry to volunteer with while I’m at it.

    But it really isn’t supposed to happen here, and not just because Overland Park is a world away from the East Side. Side-by-side, indeed inextricably mixed, with the ongoing mayhem five minutes’ drive from my doorstep is a deep reservoir of peace and contentment. God damn it, we just want to listen to jazz and eat barbecue. In its best moments, there is no gentler place on Earth. The lives of those taken on Sunday bear witness to that.

    “The new thing — the thing which we had not known — the thing we have learned now and should never forget, is this: that a society of self-governing men is more powerful, more enduring, more creative than any other kind of society, however disciplined, however centralized.” – Harry S. Truman, Radio Report to the American People on the Potsdam Conference, 9 August 1945

    “Boys, if you ever pray, pray for me now.” – Harry S. Truman, to reporters, 13 April 1945

     

    Posted in Anti-Americanism, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Current Events, History, Judaism, Law Enforcement, National Security, Personal Narrative, Politics, Predictions, Quotations, Religion, Society, Terrorism, USA | 3 Comments »

    Harbingers

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on April 15th, 2014 (All posts by )

    I’ve been surfing my usual internet hangouts over the last week or so – in between working on various editing, formatting and sales projects for the Tiny Publishing Bidness – so although I did surf, and read and observe reports on a number of different and rather disturbing events – I didn’t have time to write anything about them until after I had finished the biggest of the current projects on my plate.

    The biggest of them was the new-old range war of the Bundy ranch. I suppose that technically speaking, the Fed Gov had some small shreds of technical justification in demanding grazing fees … but the longer one looked at the whole of L’affaire Bundy, the worse it looked … which is doubtless why the Fed Gov backed down. A tactical retreat, of course; The optics of a shoot-out between the minions of the Fed Gov and the various Bundy supporters would not have been good, for Harry Reid and his clan and friends most of all, although they may eventually act – seeing that they have a position which will be at risk by tolerating defiance.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Americas, Blogging, Business, Civil Liberties, Deep Thoughts, Just Unbelievable, Media, North America, Politics, Real Estate | 14 Comments »

    The Party of Paranoia, Racial Obsession, and Totalitarian Thinking

    Posted by David Foster on April 15th, 2014 (All posts by )

    …that would be today’s Democratic Party.

    Do not fail to read this important and on-target post by Daniel Greenfield, aka Sultan Knish.

     

    Posted in Leftism, Politics, USA | 5 Comments »

    America, England, Europe – Why do we Differ? Bennett and Lotus apply the America 3.0 analysis to Europe — and Special Thanks to John O’Sullivan

    Posted by Lexington Green on April 14th, 2014 (All posts by )

    John O'Sullivan

    Jim Bennett and I recently had a chance to publish an essay in the Hungarian Review. It is titled America, England, Europe – Why do we Differ? In it we apply the same type of analysis we used in America 3.0.

    In our essay we discuss the anthropological underpinnings of modern societies, and reference the work of Alan Macfarlane and the family system analysis of Emmanuel Todd. We note the extremely long lasting character of culture, and describe thinkers who are aware of this, and build it into their analysis, as the “Continuity Model.” We suggest that European countries need to find a path toward liberal democracy that is consistent with their underlying cultures. We note the damage done by Marxist and Marxisant thinking. We condemn the European Union as a serious misstep for Europe, and suggest that it be dismantled or cut back massively.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes, Europe | 7 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on April 13th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Christopher Hitchens:

    Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the ‘transcendent’ and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don’t be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you.

    This wears well.

     

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Civil Society, Deep Thoughts, Human Behavior, Morality and Philosphy, Quotations, Rhetoric, Tradeoffs | 6 Comments »

    The Darkness behind Colonel Nightingale’s Two Great Truths

    Posted by Zenpundit on April 13th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Cross-posted from zenpundit.com

    Colonel Keith Nightingale, was featured  at Thomas Rick’s Best Defense blog  ”future of war” series at Foreign Policy.com. It is a strong piece, well worth reading:

    The seven ingredients of  highly adaptive and effective militaries  

    The there are two great truths about the future of war.
    The first is that it will consist of identifying and killing the enemy and either prevailing or not. We can surmise all sorts of new bells and whistles and technologies yet unknown, but, ultimately, it comes down to killing people. It doesn’t always have to happen, but you always have to prepare to make it happen, and have the other guy know that.
    The other great truth is that whatever we think today regarding the form, type, and location of our next conflict, will be wrong. Our history demonstrates this with great clarity.
    Well then, how do we appropriately organize for the next conflict if both these things are true? There are a number of historical verities that should serve as guides for both our resourcing and our management. In no particular order, but with the whole in mind, here are some key points to consider that have proven historically very valuable in times of war. The historic degree of support for any one or all within the service structures usually indicated the strengths and shortfalls of our prior leadership vision, preparation, and battlefield successes or failures at the time…..
    Read the rest here.
    .
    Nightingale goes on to explain the important variables of technology, intelligence, personnel quality eccentric or maverick thinkers, linguistic and cultural expertise, deployability and leadership. His points are sound and I recommend them with general agreement.
    .
    One area I wish he had spent more time expounding upon was the part “prevailing or not“. We face a major problem here in that the current generation of  American leaders, our bipartisan elite, our ruling class – call them whatever you will – do not seem to care if America wins wars or not.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, National Security, Politics, USA, War and Peace | 6 Comments »

    Sunrise

    Posted by Jonathan on April 12th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Sunrise behind a grove of slash pines at Long Pine Key in Everglades National Park, Florida. WATERMARKS WILL NOT APPEAR ON PRINTS OR LICENSED IMAGES. (© 2013 Jonathan Gewirtz / jonathan@gewirtz.net)

     

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    You Know, I Always Wondered …

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on April 11th, 2014 (All posts by )

    … about the egregious Al Sharpton, whom I will not dignify with the title of reverend, first because there is no record of the fat, illiterate, race-baiting rabble-rouser ever having attended a seminary of any sort, and secondly because … oh, good lord, just look at those old pictures of him from the 1970s and 80s; jheri-curled, velour track suit and gold pendant the size of a man-hole cover. People, trust me when I tell you that I require a smidge more dignity from those who hold churchly office in any denomination, a standard from which Al Sharpton fell so far that he would need a bucket-truck with a three-story-tall extension even to get close.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, Diversions, Media, Society, The Press, Urban Issues | 21 Comments »

    Paying Higher Taxes Can be Very Profitable (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on April 11th, 2014 (All posts by )

    (Originally posted in January 2010–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 wonders how these people are 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’re missing a key point on this one. There are substantial groups of people who stand to benefit financially from the policies of the Obama/Pelosi/Reid triumvirate, 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.

    Consider, for starters, direct employment by the government. Most Americans still probably think of government work as low-paid, but this is much less true than it used to be. According to this, 19% of civil servants now make $100K or more. A significant number of federal employees are now making more than $170,000. And, of course, the more the role of government is expanded, the more such jobs will be created, and the better will be the prospects for further pay increases.

    If one member of a couple is a federal employee making $100K and the other is making $150K, that would be sufficient to allow them to live in Chevy Chase and occasionally partake of the shopping and restaurants. But to make the serious money required to really enjoy the Chevy Chase lifestyle, it’s best to look beyond direct government employment and pursue careers which indirectly but closely benefit from government activity…which are part of the “extended government,” to coin a phrase.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Big Government, Taxes | 2 Comments »

    Thanks to: (1) The Oak Park Public Library for the Chance to Speak About America 3.0, (2) the Oak Leaves for an interview about America 3.0, and (3) Augie from Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore

    Posted by Lexington Green on April 10th, 2014 (All posts by )

    augie

    I spoke about America 3.0 at the Oak Park Public Library last night.

    The event went very well. We had about thirty people attending, including blog pals onparkstreet and Bruno Behrend. That’s considered a good turnout for one of these things, apparently. I spoke for about 40 minutes and we had at least 45 minutes of lively Q&A, with lots of further face to face discussions after I left the stage. OPPL has rating sheets they pass out after these author events, and all the ones that were handed in gave me 5 out of 5 stars. Nice.

    After the event a bunch of us adjourned to the Friendly Tap, whose motto is: “You are a stranger here but once.” They had an open mic night going on. One of the musicians played a very nice version of Wichita Lineman. Another fellow told me he played Neil Young covers, but he did not know my favorite Neil Young song, Barstool Blues. I told him I expected him to know it next time!

    Also, special thanks to one of two weekly papers in Oak Park, the Oak Leaves for an interview with me published the day before the talk at OPPL: Oak Park author looks ahead to America’s next incarnation. An excerpt:

    Q: Why do you believe we are entering into a third phase of American life?
     
    A: The United States went through a massive economic transition once already. We transformed ourselves from a primarily rural, agricultural country into an industrial country, in fact an industrial colossus. We call the America of the Founding Era, America 1.0. We call the Industrial Era, which is ending, America 2.0.
     
    The new technology, of which the Internet is just the first step, will lead to economic change of even greater magnitude. We call the coming political and economic order America 3.0, to emphasize how massive this change really will be, at least as big as the biggest change we have previously experienced.

    The interview is a nice, short synopsis of the book.

    Finally, big thanks to Augie (pictured above) from the excellent Centuries and Sleuths bookstore for having copies of America 3.0 available for sale and autographing. I was happy to see he sold every copy he brought to the event. He’s on Madison in Forest Park. Check out his store if you are in the neighborhood.

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | No Comments »

    On the academic subject of Democracies, Diasporas and nation building attempts via international elite institutions and connections:

    Posted by onparkstreet on April 10th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Again, in a hurry so a bunch of comments I posted on Small Wars Journal blog. Various wealthy Ukranian businessmen have deep connections with the democracy promotion foreign relations bureaucracy and leadership. I have also found a whole set of academic literature on the nature of the eastern European immigrant vote and its supposed importance in swing states. An interesting area of scholarship.

    Mr. Pinchuk, 53, is one of Ukraine’s only oligarchs to have deep ties to Washington. Many of the country’s richest businessmen are suspected of having links to organized crime and do not have visas to the United States, much less a relationship with a former and potentially future American president.
     
    Still, Mr. Pinchuk’s image is not without blemish: His father-in-law is Leonid Kuchma, who was president of Ukraine from 1994 to 2005 and led a government criticized for corruption, nepotism and the murder of dissident journalists. As president, Mr. Kuchma privatized a huge state steel factory and sold it to Mr. Pinchuk’s consortium for about $800 million, which competitors said was a laughably low price.
     
    Since 2006, Mr. Pinchuk has donated roughly $13.1 million to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation. Mr. Clinton attends Mr. Pinchuk’s annual conferences in the resort city of Yalta, Ukraine, and Mr. Pinchuk attended the former president’s 65th birthday party in Los Angeles.
     
    He was first introduced to Mr. Clinton in 2004 by Mr. Schoen, a New York-based pollster who has advised both Clintons. Mr. Pinchuk immediately began building a friendship with the former president and enthusiastically donating to Mr. Clinton’s causes, including an H.I.V. program that was later expanded into Ukraine.

    Trade Dispute Centers on Ukrainian Executive With Ties to Clintons

    So how and where do we start? Successfully linking military engagements within diplomatic realms means less books by George Patton and more by Henry Kissinger. Currently, you won’t find too many Kissinger books in military curricula. Conversely, you’ll find fewer books on special operations in diplomatic circles. A new operational art will require closing the cognitive gap between engagements and strategy within military and diplomatic practice and culture. This doesn’t require resources. It simply requires will.

    Peace, Art and … Special Operations by Brian S. Petit

    If one were to take unconventional warfare doctrine and look at in two ways (Russian toward Ukraine, and the US/EU toward Ukraine), what would one find and how could various narratives be developed, regardless of whether you support one or the other?

    The military doesn’t control policy but I am intrigued by the “First, Do Harm” attitudes of our foreign policy and how it affects military activity. It’s the strangest thing. It’s also strangely destabilizing and dangerous business and it seems our Western and American traditional bureaucracies are making a messy, multipolar situation worse, IMO. The creation of chaos and disorder in reality; nation building and stability on paper. Very Council on Foreign Relations.

    This “test of the West” must be met with “political and economic sanctions” if Russia proceeds in annexing Crimea, Mr. Durbin said. But he did not elaborate and did not hint at support for any U.S. military action.
     
    The trip is set to last just two days. Mr. Durbin is scheduled to be back in town by March 16, when he is set to meet with — who else? — local Ukrainian community leaders (and voters) here.
     
    It’s worth noting that Mr. Durbin has been a longtime backer of democracy movements in Ukraine and visited there in 2012. He also is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and serves on its Subcommittee on European Affairs.

    Dick Durbin heads to Ukraine

    Now, do the same for various constituencies in Russia and European countries, the UK, etc.

    What now is the context within which you would consider some of the military-centric discussion taking place? How well does a focus only on American capabilites reflect reality?

    Great power competition via proxy. If you keep meddling, you may provoke a response you don’t want. And the meddling is by ALL parties. All parties:

    There’s Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who seems to be on every other panel over the two-day event, and is accompanied by a youthful looking French woman, who sports thigh-high leather boots that match her (also leather) miniskirt perfectly. DSK’s date is not being paid by the hour, another conference attendee confides, she’s a high-level French TV executive.
     
    He speaks in a gentle, almost incomprehensible voice and calls upon political leaders to show some courage to reform governmental institutions. When one attendee asks which world politician might be able to do that, DSK looks around the room and shrugs his shoulders. It’s not attainable, he admits, but it doesn’t stop him from repeating that tired line and others.
     
    “Globalization is a war,” says the man who would now be president of France, if not for allegations that he attempted to rape a New York City hotel maid. “A new kind of war. One that very few parties, especially in the EU, are prepared to fight.” He’s a man of many deep thoughts.
     
    There’s also Gen. David Petraeus, the war hero and former CIA director, who tells me to bug off when I ask for an interview, and at a more gentle moment admits that he’s suffering from a hamstring injury that’s keeping him from running his morning miles. He, too, is hoping to say nothing worthy of being quoted. And he succeeds.
     
    Larry Summers is here, too, in his first public appearance since withdrawing from being considered by President Barack Obama to be the next chairman of the Federal Reserve. I move in to ask about his withdrawal—was he pushed out by Obama, or did he willingly remove himself from consideration for a job he badly wanted? “I said no,” he screams at the reporter beside me who beats me to the Fed question. “I said no. I said no. I said no. No.”

    Another Yalta Conference

     

    Posted in International Affairs, War and Peace | 12 Comments »

    Mike Lotus Speaking About America 3.0 at the Oak Park Public Library, TONIGHT Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    Posted by Lexington Green on April 9th, 2014 (All posts by )

    OPPL Main photo

    I will be speaking about America 3.0 at the beautiful Oak Park Public Library on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. I hope you can join me.

    Special thanks to Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore for making copies of America 3.0 available for sale at the event.

    Centuries and Sleuths Window Display

    Above is the Window display for America 3.0 at Centuries & Sleuths.

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Announcements | No Comments »

    Mike Lotus Discussing America 3.0, Panel Discussion at the David Horowitz Freedom Center West Coast Retreat, with Charles Kesler and Brian Calle

    Posted by Lexington Green on April 8th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Here is the video of the panel discussion “What of America’s Future?” at the David Horowitz Freedom Center West Coast Retreat on March 23, 2014.

    The moderator was Brian Calle. My colleague in the discussion was Prof. Charles R. Kesler.

    Charles Kesler’s recent book is entitled I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism, which I recommend highly.

    Thanks to the David Horowitz Freedom Center for inviting me to participate!

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | 5 Comments »

    Book Review: Father, Son, & Co., by Thomas Watson Jr and Peter Petre (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on April 8th, 2014 (All posts by )

    (Yesterday marked the 50th anniversary of the announcement of the IBM System/360 series (original press release here)…seems like a good time to rerun this book review, which I originally posted in 2011)

    Buy the book: Father, Son & Co.

    —-

    When Tom Watson Jr was 10 years old, his father came home and proudly announced that he had changed the name of his company. The business that had been known as the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company would now be known by the grand name International Business Machines.

    That little outfit?” thought young Tom to himself, picturing the company’s rather random-seeming collection of products, which included time clocks, coffee grinders, and scales, and the “cigar-chomping guys” who sold them. This was in 1924.

    This is the best business autobiography I’ve read. It’s about Watson Jr, his difficult relationship with his father, the company they built, and the emergence of the computing industry. It is an emotional, reflective, and self-critical book, without the kind of “here’s how brilliant I was” tone that afflicts too many executive autobiographies. With today being IBM’s 100th anniversary (counting from the incorporation of CTR), I thought it would be a good time to finally get this review finished and posted.

    Watson’s relationship with his father was never an easy one. From an early age, he sensed a parental expectation that he would follow his father into IBM, despite both his parents assuring him that this was not the case and he could do whatever he wanted. This feeling that his life course was defined in advance, combined with fear that he would never be able to measure up to his increasingly-famous father, was likely a factor in the episodes of severe depression which afflicted him from 13 to 19. In college Watson was an indifferent student and something of a playboy. His most significant accomplishment during this period was learning to fly airplanes—-”I’d finally discovered something I was good at”–a skill that would have great influence on his future. His first job at IBM, as a trainee salesman, did little to boost his self-confidence or his sense of independence: he was aware that local IBM managers were handing him easy accounts, wanting to ensure success for the chief executive’s son. It was only when Watson joined the Army Air Force during WWII–he flew B-24s and was based in Russia, assisting General Follett Bradley in the organization of supply shipments to the Soviet Union–that he proved to himself that he could succeed without special treatment. As the war wound down, he set his sights on becoming an airline pilot–General Bradley expressed surprise, saying “Really? I always thought you’d go back and run the IBM company.” This expression of confidence, from a man he greatly respected, helped influence Watson to give IBM another try.

    The products that Watson had been selling, as a junior salesman, were punched card systems. Although these were not computers in the modern sense of the word, they could be used to implement some pretty comprehensive information systems. Punched card systems were an important enabler of the increasing dominance of larger organizations in both business and government: the Social Security Act of 1935 was hugely beneficial to IBM both because of the systems they sold to the government directly and those sold to businesses needing to keep up with the required record-keeping.

    Read the rest of this entry »

     

    Posted in Biography, Book Notes, Business, Management, Tech | 13 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on April 7th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Seth Mandel: Brendan Eich, the Culture Wars, and the Ground Shifting Beneath Our Feet in Commentary:

    But forget about the Kochs for a moment. Forget, too, about the left’s major donors like Tom Steyer, who plans to spend $100 million in congressional midterm elections in support of Democrats. What about the guy who donated $1,000 to a state ballot initiative six years ago? Should he lose his job somewhere down the line because public opinion has shifted against an old ballot initiative? To the left, the answer is: Absolutely.
     
    This is part of why conservatives have been leery about the Democrats’ proposals to force disclosure of the kind of donors who give to Republicans (while exempting many of their own major donors). The left claims it wants full disclosure of political participation in the name of transparency and electoral integrity. We now know this isn’t remotely true. They want disclosure so they can extend the purge of heretics from private life and thus deter libertarian and conservative political participation. They want a permanent record of everyone’s political opinions to use against them at any time in the future. This is about disenfranchisement and blacklisting and nothing more. That should have been apparent before, but it’s crystal clear now.

     

    Posted in Leftism, Political Philosophy, Politics, Quotations, Society | 4 Comments »

    The New McCarthyites

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on April 7th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Seriously, I am wondering how on earth the politically correct of this blessed nation manage to keep a straight face and their heads from exploding; ritually demanding sympathy for the so-called victims of the 1950s black-list of various Hollywoodians of distinctly Communist sympathies, while in this present century demanding that those who are not vociferously laudatory with regard to same-sex marriage be cast into the outer darkness. Not that I can specifically put a finger and a link to a person or body doing exactly that – but it is noted for the record that same kind of so-called liberal, generous and tolerant thinker who routinely condemn the antics of Joe McCarthy with regard to Communist infiltration half a century and more ago, is in these degraded days prepared to drag those who decline to enthusiastically support same-sex marriage to the stake, the courts, or the unemployment line. The irony abounds … and is likely to achieve such a density as to drop it all the way to the core of the earth and out the other side.
    Read the rest of this entry »

     

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

    Where Sgt. Mom Spent Saturday

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on April 6th, 2014 (All posts by )

    At the mighty Big Enchilada!

    Yes, at the San Antonio Book Festival. The exhibitor tables were across the street – and there were only two homeless that I spotted, from the Watercress Press table. Otherwise a mildly rewarding day, and a grateful return home to a frozen pizza and two episodes of Upstairs, Downstairs on the TV.

     

    Posted in Americas, Architecture, Book Notes, Business | 3 Comments »

    Book Review: Defying Hitler, by Sebastian Haffner (rerun)

    Posted by David Foster on April 5th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Defying Hitler: A Memoir

    (I originally posted this review in early 2010. I’m sure we have quite a few new readers since then, and believe this is an important book worthy of a broader audience…hence the rerun)

    How does an advanced and civilized nation turn into a pack of hunting hounds directed against humans? Sebastian Haffner addresses the question in this memoir, which describes his own experiences and observations from early childhood until his departure from Germany in 1939. It is an important document–not only for the light it sheds on this particular and dreadful era in history, but also for its more general analysis of the factors leading to totalitarianism and of life under a totalitarian state. It is also a very personal and human book, with vivid portraits of Haffner’s parents, his friends, and the women he loved. Because of its importance and the fact that it is relatively little-read in the United States (Amazon ranking 108654–I picked up my copy at the Gatwick airport), I’m reviewing it here at considerable length.

    The title (probably not chosen by the author himself) is perhaps unfortunate. Haffner was not a member of an organization dedicated to overthrowing the Nazi state, along the lines of a Hans Oster or a Sophie Scholl. His defiance, rather, was on a personal level–keeping his mind free of Nazi ideology, avoiding participation in Nazi crimes, and helping victims of the regime where possible. Even this level of defiance required considerable courage–more than most people are capable of. As Haffner summarizes life under a totalitarian regime:

    With fearful menace the state demands that the individual give up his friends, abandon his lovers, renounce his beliefs and assume new, prescribed ones. He must use a new form of greeting, eat and drink in ways he does not fancy, employ his leisure in occupations he abhors, make himself available for activities he despises, and deny his past and his individuality. For all this, he must constantly express extreme enthusiasm and gratitude.

    Haffner was born in 1907, and many of his earliest and most vivid memories center around the First World War. To this seven-year-old boy, the war was something very exciting–a reaction that surely was shared by many boys of his age in all of the belligerent countries. As Haffner remembers it, he was not at all motivated by hate for the enemy–although there was plenty of propaganda intended to inculcate such hate–but rather by a kind of sporting instinct:

    In those childhood days, I was a war fan just as one is a football fan…I hated the French, the English, and the Russians as little as the Portsmouth supporters detest the Wolverhampton fans. Of course, I prayed for their defeat and humiliation, but only because these were the necesary counterparts of my side’s victory and triumph.

    The German defeat came as a severe shock to young Sebastian, who had in no way expected it: The same was true of the severe social disruption which pervaded Germany during this period:

    Some days there was no electricity, on other no trams, but it was never clear whether it was because of the Spartacists or the Government that we had to use oil lamps or go on foot.

    In 1919, Haffner joined a sports club called the Old Prussia Athletics Club. This was a right-wing sports club–so far had the politicization of daily life already progressed. Although the club was anti-Socialist, it was not anti-Semitic–indeed, several of the members (including the club’s best runner) were Jewish, and probably participated as enthusiastically as other members in street fights with the Socialist youth.

    After a time, the political situation calmed down–temporarily, as we now know. The Old Prussia Athletic Club was dissolved:

    Many of us sought new interests: stamp-collecting, for example, piano-playing, or the theatre. Only a few remained true to politics, and it struck me for the first time that, strangely enough, those were the more stupid, coarse and unpleasant among my schoolfellows.

    Haffner assigns much of the credit for the political and economic stabilization to the statesman Walter Rathenau–”an aristocratic revolutionary, an idealistic economic planner, a Jew who was a German patriot, a German patriot who was a liberal citizen of the world..cultured enough to be above culture, rich enough to be above riches, man of the world enough to be above the world.” But while Rathenau was admired and even loved by many, he was hated by many others. He was murdered in 1922. This killing was followed shortly by the great inflation which began in 1923. In Haffner’s view, the impact of this episode is almost impossible to overstate: he calls it “the unending bloody Saturnalia, in which not only money but all standards lost their value.”

    That year newspaper readers could again play a variation of the exciting numbers game they had enjoyed during the war…this time the figures did not refer to military events..but to an otherwise quite uninteresting, everyday item in the financial pages: the exchange rate of the dollar. The fluctuation of the dollar was the barometer by which, with a mixture of anxiety and excitement, we measured the fall of the mark.

    By the end of 1922, prices had already risen to somewhere between 10 and 100X the pre-war peacetime level, and a dollar could purchase 500 marks. It was inconvenient to work with the large numbers, but life went on much as before.

    But the mark now went on the rampage…the dollar shot to 20,000 marks, rested there for a short time, jumped to 40,000, paused again, and then, with small periodic fluctuations, coursed through the ten thousands and then the hundred thousands…Then suddenly, looking around we discovered that this phenomenon had devastated the fabric of our daily lives.

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    Posted in Book Notes, Civil Society, Germany, History | 12 Comments »

    History Friday: Unit Conversion Error in the Pacific War

    Posted by Trent Telenko on April 4th, 2014 (All posts by )

    In previous History Friday columns and comments I have laid out that a great deal of the institutional and academic histories we have of the Pacific Theater of World War 2 are deeply flawed. These flaws are from both the post WW2 political and budget agendas of those governmental institutions and from the lack of understanding of the significant on-the-ground details by more recent academic and general histories.

    Following that theme, this week’s Pacific War History Friday column is the first of several that will deal with the concept of “engineering measurement unit conversion error” as it applied to the fighting in World War 2’s Pacific theater. By “engineering measurement unit conversion error” I mean problems similar to the one that destroyed the 1999 NASA Mars Climate Orbiter. NASA engineers missed an English system to metric system measurement unit conversion which caused the Orbiter to be lost. See this article “The Quick 6: Six Unit Conversion Disasters” for that and other examples.

    What does the 1999 NASA Mars Climate Orbiter have to do with the Pacific Theater of WW2?  Quite a lot, as it turns out!

    What does the 1999 NASA Mars Climate Orbiter have to do with the Pacific Theater of WW2? Quite a lot, as it turns out!

    It turns out that there were two major “engineering measurement unit conversion error” issues between the US Army and US Navy that affected Radar, gunnery and general topographic map making between the US Military services in the Pacific.

    The first issue was that the US Navy used nautical miles while the US Army used statute miles. The way this issue was dealt with was to give performance in a unit of measure both services could agree too — namely yards – for gun performance and for Radars involved with naval fire control, anti-aircraft and coast artillery.

    See Joint Chiefs of Staff document: “U.S. Radar – Operational Characteristics of Radar Classified by Tactical Application” FTP 217, 1 Aug 1943.
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    Posted in History, Military Affairs | 6 Comments »

    Relax

    Posted by Jonathan on April 4th, 2014 (All posts by )

    Kayakers enjoy the warm, shallow waters of Florida Bay in the southernmost part of Everglades National Park. WATERMARKS WILL NOT APPEAR ON PRINTS OR LICENSED IMAGES. (Jonathan Gewirtz   jonathan@gewirtz.net)

     
    Order Prints
     

     

    Posted in Photos | 2 Comments »

    Thanks to the David Horowitz Freedom Center for the Opportunity to Speak about America 3.0

    Posted by Lexington Green on April 4th, 2014 (All posts by )

    terranea sunset

    I had a wonderful opportunity to speak at the recent David Horowitz Freedom Center West Coast Retreat on March 23, 2014.

    The very last talk of the weekend was on the topic of America’s Future. It was in a “three chair” format. The moderator was Brian Calle. The other person in the interview was Prof. Charles R. Kesler.

    Before the event I was able to read much of Charles Kesler’s recent book entitled I Am the Change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism. The book is, mercifully, not entirely about our current president. It is instead a history of liberal and progressive politics in the last 100 years. Recommended.

    The discussion went well, and was well received, I am told by reliable observers.

    There were many good speakers over the weekend. Some standouts (from memory) were Catherine Engelbrecht, Caroline Glick, Bret Stephens, Congressman Louie Gohmert (who was much better than I expected). The entire event was beautifully run, and the facility, the Terranea Resort was very nice. Frankly, it was quite a bit more posh than I am used to. Being in California instead of Chicago for a few days, with a 25 degree temperature difference was also good.

    My most heartfelt thanks to the David Horowitz Freedom Center for having me speak, to the many people who spoke to me about the America 3.0, and to the many people who bought the book.

     

    Posted in America 3.0, Book Notes | No Comments »

    Military Rites, Practices and Legends – Dining Out

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on April 3rd, 2014 (All posts by )

    (Herewith for a Friday, from my archive of military posts, an examination of the custom of ‘Dining Out’. This came from long-ago archives of The Daily Brief, when I was attempting to educate the general readership on some arcane practices and traditions in the military. Many of the essays are collected in Air Force Daze - including this one.)

    Every once in a while an Air Force unit or organization takes it into their head to hold a formal “dining in” or “dining out”, to mark an anniversary, host a very important visitor, or mark a singular event. The formal rituals of this event goes back to the misty pre-history of the USAF, before the glorious day when it was established as a separate and co-equal service, when US Army Air Corps commanders in Britain during World War II noted the pomp and circumstance of RAF formal mess dinners, and wished to adapt some instant but awe-inspiring traditions for their own service. Legends have it that the first formal “dining in/dining out” events were very closely modeled on the RAF model, but as the Army Air Corps evolved into the US Army Air Force, and then into the US Air Force, so did the formal mess dinner. It continues evolving, or mutating to this present day, to a form warped out of all recognition to the originators, in response to changing circumstances and societal preferences.
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    Posted in History, Human Behavior, Humor, Military Affairs | 8 Comments »

    What Reset?

    Posted by onparkstreet on April 3rd, 2014 (All posts by )

    I’m in a bit of a hurry so I will post two comments here that I posted at Small Wars Journal. As time permits, I will add various links. The point is to start a discussion and analysis. I no longer consider myself as a member of one or the other party and don’t wish to discuss the partisan angle except in an outsider “analyst” way.

    I often talk about democracy and diasporas in the comments section and Small Wars Journal has more than one article on the subject.
     
    In this case, one interesting domestic factor to consider is the way in which NATO expansion has been presented to domestic constituencies such as Polish Americans from the 90s onwards. Some live in states like Illinois and Ohio and are swing voters in key areas. As Sec. State, Hillary Clinton spoke of the future of NATO as one of expansion and she did it in Chicago which has large Eastern European diasporan communities. The choice of venue and the talks given definitely fall into the nature of what some constituencies–immigrant and otherwise–have long been working toward. Couple this with Robert Kagan as a part her then Foreign Policy Council (I believe it was called this) and you have an example of an intellectual community embedding itself within institutions; in this case, the State Department.
     
    This is what I meant in another comment. Power, ideology, immigrant diasporas, political blocs–these matter because events have a multifactorial basis. Faceless Bureaucrat at Kings of War has a brilliant post on multifactorality. There is a lot of propaganda out there from ALL sides. Fascinating.
     
    And not a little scary given how things got in Kosovo when various militaries came up against each other.

    Is Robert Spalding a Military Fellow at Council on Foreign Relations? There is confusion in this piece, IMO, between offense and defense and in using correct examples.
     
    NATO was about Western Europe. Ukraine is not Germany. And nuclear weapons change things so that the other examples seem a bit odd to me.
     
    But what I really wanted to say is that the Council on Foreign Relations seems to have this long time confusion between NATO as a defensive military alliance and the EU as a long term project to create a zone of peaceful activity and a collective or community.
     
    The Ukraine as part of a US defense security perimeter within NATO confuses the various missions and mixes up defense with offense and democratization and markets with the nature of security perimeters and where the lines are drawn. Too close, and it is permanently unstable.
     
    An example is a 1950′s book from Ben Tillman Moore, I believe, on the future of NATO. He speaks of a creating a community and this mixed-up nature of thought continues to the conversation today. I believe some of the California universities have this book on file in an open source format that can be accessed via internet.

    I think that from the right–or hawk angle– this issue has been “outflanked” by the former Secretary of State should she choose to run in a future Presidential election. I also believe this background to be one factor leading up to the crisis in the Ukraine today. A dangerous business given the presence of nuclear weapons.

     

    Posted in International Affairs | 6 Comments »

    Mike Lotus Speaking About America 3.0 at the Oak Park Public Library, Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    Posted by Lexington Green on April 2nd, 2014 (All posts by )

    I will be speaking about America 3.0 at the beautiful Oak Park Public Library on Wednesday, April 9, 2014. I hope you can join me.

    Special thanks to Centuries and Sleuths Bookstore for making copies of America 3.0 available for sale at the event.

    Special thanks also to Jim Bowman for his piece in the Oak Park Wednesday Journal, A library book-talk you don’t want to miss: Rebooting American prosperity.

    The flyer for the event is below the fold.

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    Posted in America 3.0, Announcements | No Comments »