"Restore(s) a little sanity into current political debate" - Kenneth Minogue, TLS "Projects a more expansive and optimistic future for Americans than (the analysis of) Huntington" - James R. Kurth, National Interest "One of (the) most important books I have read in recent years" - Lexington Green
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Tillman also pointed out that many of the public service regulations were not valid for the purpose of preventing possible conflicts of interest for elected deputies [i.e., officials], judges and not least the presidents and vice-presidents. Tillman called [i.e., made reference to] the desired independence of the persons who hold such offices. If presidents had to submit their decisions to an ethics officer, in order to rule out possible conflicts of interest, the latter would gain a very powerful position, although he [i.e., the latter] was not legitimized by any choice [of the people]. Judges and elected representatives enjoy a trust advance.
This is worth reading in full. Recent US reporting on the Constitution’s Foreign Emoluments Clause, like much recent US reporting on any topic that can be associated with Trump, is tendentious in the extreme.
I’m currently on Season 5 of this series, which ran for 6 seasons on French TV. Set in the fictional town of Villeneuve during the years of the German occupation and directly afterwards, it is simply outstanding – one of the best television series I have ever seen.
Daniel Larcher is a physician who also serves as deputy mayor, a largely honorary position. When the regular mayor disappears after the German invasion, Daniel finds himself mayor for real. His wife Hortense, a selfish and emotionally-shallow woman, is the opposite of helpful to Daniel in his efforts to protect the people of Villaneuve from the worst effects of the occupation while still carrying on his medical practice. Daniel’s immediate superior in his role as mayor is Deputy Prefect Servier, a bureaucrat mainly concerned about his career and about ensuring that everything is done according to proper legal form.
Daniel’s brother Marcel is a Communist. The series accurately reflects the historical fact that the European Communist parties did not at this stage view the outcome of the war as important–it was only “the Berlin bankers versus the London bankers”…but this is a viewpoint that Marcel has a hard time accepting.
In addition to his underground political activism, Marcel works as a foreman at the lumber mill run by a prominent local businessman, Raymond Schwartz. A strong mutual attraction has developed between Raymond and Marie Germain, a farm wife whose husband is away with the army and is missing in action.
Much of the movie’s action takes place at the local school, where Judith Morhange is the (Jewish) principal and Lucienne Broderie is a young teacher. Jules Beriot, the assistant principal, is in love with Lucienne, but hopelessly so, it seems.
German characters range from Kurt, a young soldier with whom Lucienne shares a love of classical music, all the way down to the sinister sicherheitdienst officer Heinrich Mueller. The characters include several French police officers, who make differing choices about the ways in which they will handle life and work under the Occupation.
The series does a fine job of bringing all these characters–and many more–to life. Very well-written and well-acted, well-deserving of its long run on French television. Highly recommended.
In French, with English subtitles that (unlike the case with many films) are actually readable. Season 1 is available on Amazon streaming, and seasons 2-5 are available there in DVD form. MHZ Networks is another available source for the series. (Season 6, which I believe is now running in France, is not yet available in translation.)
The French government is trying to reform the labor laws to make France more competitive and reduce unemployment. The French unions and leftists are not happy. The 24 team UEFA Euro 2016 football championship is scheduled to begin June 10 and continue through July 10. Millions of tourists are expected and, strategically, the unions are threatening to close the airlines and the rails. Demonstrations and street riots have been ongoing for several weeks now and things are getting more violent.
Brit journo Philip Turle gives a fairly succinct explanation of the situation:
If the GOP leadership have ten brain cells between them, Reince Priebus would be back in private practice and Bill Whittle would be chairperson of their party. But back in the real world, that might cut into the graft coming from Alphabet Street lobbyists. And that’s really why they’re there.
His insights on the importance of gaining a persuasive voice in the pop culture and reimaging and repackaging the classically liberal, libertarian message are incredibly important.
‘Who controls the past,’ ran the Party slogan, ‘controls the future: who controls the present controls the past.’ ~George Orwell, 1984
Controlling our view of the past – even our view of the present – is an obsession with the Progressive Left. Our understanding of history deeply influences our thinking and philosophy. Among other things, it shapes our view of both the morality and social-economic effects of free market capitalism versus socialism.
To that end, a group of enormously successful people from the 19th century were demonized by turn of the century Progressives and have continued to be demonized as The Robber Barons by Leftist historians in primary school and college texts ever since. More subtly, through dark Orwellian references in Leftist entertainment programs and media, they have been thoroughly maligned in the popular imagination as well. Yet few people know who these people actually were and what, for better or worse, they actually did in their lives and how their works affected our lives even today. In his book, Robert Folsom sets out to take fresh look at people we would today call entrepreneurs.
It’s steps like this that move the space program forward. Notice this wasn’t done by NASA or ULA or the ESA. It was done by a private company that didn’t exist 15 years ago. 37 minutes, including the launch, recovery of the 1st stage, and deployment of the Dragon capsule.
BTW, very cool to me that Spacex did not require the help of a traditional media company for any of this. And it’s actually much better than anything they typically produce. In addition, the people in this video are in the Hawthorne, California, SpaceX facility where these rockets are designed and produced. They designed and built this rocket. And they’re watching it perform almost real time. How amazing is that?
Remember the standard:
“If you are going to cover a song, rip it apart a bit and make it your own.”
Changes, by David Bowie:
And a remake by Lewis and Clarke:
I saw this one while perusing Jeff Carter’s excellent blog, Points and Figures, which you should take a look at every day. It particularly struck me today as I am going through some big changes in my life right now. Some good, some bad, but in the end, as my daughter keeps telling me, “everything will be just fine”.
“Bei Mir Bistu Shein” (Yiddish: בײַ מיר ביסטו שיין, “To Me You’re Beautiful”) is a popular Yiddish song composed by Jacob Jacobs (lyricist) and Sholom Secunda (composer) for a 1932 Yiddish comedy musical, I Would If I Could (in Yiddish, Men Ken Lebn Nor Men Lost Nisht, “You could live, but they don’t let you”), which closed after one season at the Parkway Theatre in Brooklyn, New York City. The score for the song transcribed the Yiddish title as “Bay mir bistu sheyn”. The original Yiddish version of the song (in C minor) is a dialogue between two lovers.
I generally like storms. They’re interesting and exciting. That said, I’ve been in a few that were downright scary and I’ve been very close to a few lightning strikes. This is impressive to me, along with the sheer beauty of it.
I remember merging off of I-84 West onto I-81 South about ten years ago in a thunderstorm. It was late in the day and as the sun slipped below the level of the storm clouds sunlight fell on a hillside of grass. The rain was still falling and the entire hillside burst into a display of light as the droplets on the blades of grass glittered and shimmered in the light wind with a billion sparkles of light from every color of the spectrum. I had to keep forcing my eyes back on the road it was such a spectacular display of light.
I just picked up a link to this today and thought it was impressive. A muslim girl showed up at a Heritage Foundation discussion on the Benghazi attack to put on a ‘Poor me! What about us moderate muslims?’ act. Not to condemn what jihadis had done, not to pledge her support to fight against them, not to say how she is organizing peaceful muslims to combat terrorism in the United States. No, of course not. She owes the West and the United States nothing, least of all defense. She showed up to play the victim card, or was possibly sent there as part of a strategy to use political correctness as a weapon to encourage Western weakness in the face of violent islam. Either way, Brigitte Gabriel was having none of it. She gave her a piece of her mind and made some excellent points along the way. If more people were this clear headed we’d have a lot fewer problems in the world.
“There’s a difference between the West and the Non-West”
Mr Hanson demonstrates not just what we owe to the Greeks, but how many of the issues they struggled with we still struggle with today: how to look at and understand the world, immigration and assimilation, voting rights, poverty and income equality, social justice, socialism and egalitarianism, and the role and rights of women in society.
Just from the opening:
“Places like India and China are becoming much more like us, if I can use that controversial term, than we are like them. And in our period here at home the irony of all this change, as it expands from the center, I think at the same time there’s never been a period in the West when people who are Western have so little confidence in what they have to offer the world. At the very time that India and China and South Korea and Latin America are embracing Western civilization, we in the West are questioning it. So much so that we created this alternative protocol called Multiculturalism. It sounds great, study all cultures. Two things to remember about it. The Greeks started Multiculturalism with people like Xenophon and Herodotus that were inquisitive and empirical, inductive in their interest in Persian and Egypt. And second, it doesn’t mean study all cultures, it means to advance them as equal to Western culture. I have no problem with that except it’s intellectually dishonest.
Because privately, we in the United States, and indeed in Europe as well, we live two lives. We profess a multicultural utopia, that all the world and the cultures and all the history are all of relatively equal merit, even though we see that China and India and all these countries are adopting business practices, language practices, transparencies like our own. But then we don’t live this multicultural dogma. If I can be very blunt and controversial, if we all want to travel and you have a choice between flying Nigerian Airlines and United, you’ll take United…If you want to say, you happen to be an atheist – God forbid – in this audience, but if you said ‘God is dead!’ you better do it in Salt Lake City – Mormon as it is! – than try to do it in Saudi Arabia where you’ll be executed.
Is it because of race? No. Is it because of genes? No. It’s because of a particular culture, a particular way of looking at the world. What is that way of looking at the world? Primarily it’s empirical. That a person starts his existence without preconceptions. We inherited that from the Socratic tradition. We are not deductive, we don’t start with a premise and make the premise fit the examples. We look at the examples…and then we come up with conclusions about it. The scientific method.
What else is this Western idea? It’s the idea that a person, an individual, has inalienable rights. We see that best epitomized in our own Constitution. But it goes back to Greece.”
And I’ll conclude with a spoiler from his finish because I think it’s so profound. Describing the fall of Rome to a band of thugs after a much smaller Roman Republic had defeated much larger and more dangerous threats:
“Fast forward to the 5th century AD, is this the Roman Republic, 1/4 of Italy? No. It now encompasses 70 million people, from Mesopotamia in the East to the Atlantic ocean in the West, to above Hadrian’s Wall in the North to the Sahara Desert in the South, one million square miles. And they’re attacked, not by a formidable power, the inheritor of classical military science like Hannibal, but a thug like Atilla with some Huns and Visigoths and Vandals. By any measure, the threat was nothing compared to the threat that Romans faced when it was much, much smaller. But why in the world could they not defend themselves….?
The answer is…in 216 BC a Roman knew what it was to be a Roman. And they were under no illusions that they had to be perfect to be good. All they believed was they had an illustrious tradition that was better than alternative and could be better even more…In 450 AD I don’t think the average person who lived under the Roman Empire…knew what it was to be a Roman citizen, he did not believe that it was any better than the alternative. And when that happens in history, history is cruel, it gives nobody a pass. If you cease to believe that your country’s exceptional and has a noble tradition, and it is good without without being perfect, and it’s better than the alternative – If you cease to believe that! – there’s no reason for you to continue, and history says you won’t. And you don’t.”
Can we learn and change course? Or are we doomed to travel that road once more?
Posted by Ginny on 16th February 2016 (All posts by Ginny)
Thanks to Jonathan’s earlier post of Kristol’s conversations; whether Kass on education or Kagan on human nature or Gerlenter on art, these are consistently interesting. Here is Valentine’s Day with Petraeus (there’s another with Keene).
It’s been said about Godzilla that it was Japan’s way of dealing with the B-29’s of the American Army Air Corp of WWII. A…monster…emerges from the ocean to the East, wreaking havoc and destruction on the cities and people of Japan. Nothing they could do seemed capable of stopping or even slowing the incredible assault. All was laid to waste before it. The movie was a means of dealing with the horrible memories of the bombings on another level, a symbolic level, easier to face that way. Dealing with it without dealing with it. A coping mechanism for the culture.
Cloverfield may be the American equivalent. An apocalyptic horror film, it incorporates themes from Godzilla, Alien and the 1953 version of War of the Worlds. It takes place in Manhattan and the movie begins in retrospect as video footage from a recovered camera, now in the archives of the DoD. The everyday friendships, lives and loves of a few young professionals unfolds into a nightmare of fear and panic as an enormous creature inflicts death and destruction on the city and everyone around them. Virtually the entire film is done in hand-held camera style as they sporadically document the chaos unfolding around them. It’s an incredibly effective technique and gives a feeling of reality to the film it otherwise wouldn’t have. There’s no doubt in my mind this is the filmmaker’s way of coping with 9/11.
Here’s the first clip in a series of nine you can watch at Movieclips. The friends have just left a going away party and evacuated to the roof after what felt like an earthquake and power outage.
“The Leftists claim the moral high ground, but the morality is the only ground on which they can be defeated. We can attack the political figures all we want, but they will be replaced by different ones of exactly the same kind.”
“The reason why this socialist system is immoral is because equality can only be enforced one way (points down). You cannot elevate people to make them equal because people are all born different, but you can always bring them down to the lowest common denominator. That’s what they eventually wind up doing, regardless of their claims to the contrary”
Catherine Engelbrecht, the woman conducting this interview, was targeted by the Obama administration for her work with the King Street Patriots and True the Vote:
Then other agencies began to show up at their business, including the BATF, and OSHA, who found no violations but their visits eventually resulted in fines upward of 20K. Engelbrecht said there was no real apparent reason for the inquiries and visits made by the agencies.
Meanwhile, the IRS continued its intrusive demands, including inquiries into every Facebook or Twitter posting Engelbrecht had ever made, her political aspirations, places she had spoken or intended to speak, the content of her remarks, and other abusive questions. It didn’t take long before Englebrecht decided that the statistical probability of her requests for tax-exempt status and the tyrannical actions of government agencies being unconnected was slim to none, and she decided to act.
After the second visit of the BATF, Engelbrecht called her attorney, asking, “Who do we sue, and how do we do it?” Lawsuits were filed against the IRS on several counts, including one to compel the agency to either grant the tax-exempt status, or refuse the request. In December 2013, the status was granted, but portions of the lawsuits have not yet been resolved.
Engelbrecht told us that she has copies of a letter from Obama’s general counsel demanding investigation of any organization claiming to be involved with election integrity, and another specifically targeting True the Vote, designating it as a threat to the administration.
Posted by Michael Hiteshew on 30th November 2015 (All posts by Michael Hiteshew)
First, watch this awesome slo-mo of a slinky being dropped.
Because it takes time for the tension to be released on the bottom of the slinky, it remains ‘held up’ while the top of the slinky falls. More subtly, the torsion is released faster than the tension and reaches the bottom first, uncoiling and rotating the bottom surface before the tension is released and the bottom finally begins to fall.
Social change behaves in a similar way. When a critical mass of thought or behavior changes state from OK to not-OK, it releases the social tension holding that thought or behavior in place. A wavefront of change moves through society from the change-point group outward to those most closely associated and onward from them in an expanding sphere of influence. The group farthest from the change point – either physically, socially or ideologically – is the last group to change.
The subtle part is that some part of that change may move faster. An idea, subordinate to, but foundational of the larger change may move through society first, followed later by large scale behavioral or ideological change. Examples might include the idea that tobacco smoking is unhealthy moving through society as a precursor to a later change that smoking is socially unacceptable, followed even later by policies and ideological reinforcement to discourage it. Another example being that information about stagnation in economic performance and high unemployment might move through society as a precursor to change in economic policy or even entire economic systems.
In the slinky, the inertia of the spring impedes the release of tension, which is why the bottom of the spring doesn’t fall at the same instant as the top. In society, not only does it take time for information to propagate, and for a critical mass of people to change opinion, but there is the additional impedance of disinformation, the inertia of entrenched interests hiding or distorting critical information in order to protect their power and income.
Finally, there is one other effect which is fascinating. Because the top of the slinky is released first, it the first thing to be affected by the change in state, therefore is the first thing to experience the acceleration of gravity. As a result, it actually outruns the tension-release propagating through the slinky, and reaches and passes the bottom of the slinky while it is still being held in place.
Again, this is mirrored in society. Those first to change have made large progress toward the new state of things before the last of the group has even begun to react. If they get far enough out front, they end up pulling the rest along even against their will. Revolutions can sweep through societies this way.
Posted by Michael Kennedy on 25th October 2015 (All posts by Michael Kennedy)
I’m tired of doom and gloom so I thought I would post something a bit different. Sailing !
In 1981, I sailed my 40 foot sailboat to Hawaii in the Transpacific Yacht Race. That year some large yachts had what were called “Sat Nav ” receivers aboard to track a system of satellites that required continuous tracking and took quite a bit of electrical power. It is now called “Transit” or “navSat”
Thousands of warships, freighters and private watercraft used Transit from 1967 until 1991. In the 1970s, the Soviet Union started launching their own satellite navigation system Parus (military) / Tsikada (civilian), that is still in use today besides the next generation GLONASS. Some Soviet warships were equipped with Motorola NavSat receivers.
My small sailboat could not use such a system. It drew about an amp an hour, far too great a drain on my battery. For that reason I used a sextant and sight tables like these, which are published for the latitudes to be sailed.
That volume is published for latitudes 15 degrees to 30 degrees, which are the ones we most sailed. Hawaii is at about 20 degrees north and Los Angeles is 35 degrees north. The sight tables provide a set of observations that can be compared with an annual book called a “Nautical Almanac.” As it happens, the Nautical Almanac for 1981 is used for training and is still in print.
The third component, besides the sextant, of course, is a star finder, like like this one, to aid with navigational stars.
The first thing one needs is an accurate clock. This is the reason why sailing ships need a chronometer in the 18th century.
Harrison solved the precision problems with his much smaller H4 chronometer design in 1761. H4 looked much like a large five-inch (12 cm) diameter pocket watch. In 1761, Harrison submitted H4 for the £20,000 longitude prize. His design used a fast-beating balance wheel controlled by a temperature-compensated spiral spring. These features remained in use until stable electronic oscillators allowed very accurate portable timepieces to be made at affordable cost. In 1767, the Board of Longitude published a description of his work in The Principles of Mr. Harrison’s time-keeper.
I enjoyed the conversation with Dan, which focused on the book I co-authored, America 3.0: Rebooting American Prosperity in the 21st Century-Why Americas Greatest Days Are Yet to Come. We touched on the larger theme of Conservative pessimism, and the need to have a future vision to inspire us and to be working toward. We also teased out the fact that a better future is not in any way inevitable, but it is achievable only if the people who want it make it happen. Our Progressive fellow citizens never forget this. We shouldn’t either.
Dan at one point jokingly said, I paraphrase: Can’t you just leave the Conservatives alone, and let them enjoy their hopelessness in peace?
We will all have a lot we need to do in the years ahead. Great days for America are coming, whatever the intervening trials. So, be happy.
It is always a pleasure to speak to Dan Proft, and I hope you will listen and find the conversation interesting as well.