The Day of Infamy at 70: The Care and Feeding of a Black Swan

Before
Before
During
During
After
After
Fable
Fable

In statecraft, there are:

  • truths: Oahu is an island.
  • assumptions: Oahu is an island. Pearl Harbor is a good anchorage for naval vessels.
  • theories: Oahu is an island. Pearl Harbor is a good anchorage for naval vessels. A fleet based at Pearl Harbor can attack into the western Pacific or block attacks into the eastern Pacific.
  • hypotheses: Oahu is an island. Pearl Harbor is a good anchorage for naval vessels. A fleet based at Pearl Harbor can attack into the western Pacific or block attacks into the eastern Pacific. Moving the U.S. Pacific fleet to Pearl Harbor leaves it close enough to deter Japan but far enough away to be safe from Japanese attacks.
  • guesses: Oahu is an island. Pearl Harbor is a good anchorage for naval vessels. A fleet based at Pearl Harbor can attack into the western Pacific or block attacks into the eastern Pacific. Moving the U.S. Pacific fleet to Pearl Harbor leaves it close enough to deter Japanese aggression but far enough away to be safe from Japanese attack. The Japanese lack the will or power to attack Pearl Harbor with carrier based planes.

These are all exercises in faith. Eventually, they all end up reduced to fable. But each flavor of faith or fable differs from other flavors in the rigor of ritualized attention it demands, the fallout when it is followed or ignored, and the lessons it aspires to teach its true believers. The biggest risk run by statecraft is mistaking one kind of faith or fable for another and acting on that mistaken belief. Acting on a guess you have mistake for truth when the truth is that it is only a guess creates a mismatch between hard truth and hazy guess. It’s the impact of these mismatch that separate the harmful from the harmless and the tolerable from the inevitably fatal.

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In Memoriam: The Bravest of Men

Kapler the Brave
Kapler the Brave

Alexei Kapler was the bravest of men.

How brave?

Put it this way: there are two kinds of brave:

  • Brave
  • Alexei Kapler brave.

Alexei Kapler was Alexei Kapler brave.

By profession, Kapler was a screenwriter, journalist, director, and actor. By avocation, he was an accomplished womanizer. One night, Kapler, a man of forty years, met a sixteen year old girl at a party. This young woman was intelligent, strong-willed, attractive, and sad. It was the tenth anniversary of her mother’s death. No one seemed to remember. Kapler was happy to listen, comfort, sympathize, and seduce.

Since his new conquest came from a sheltered background, Kapler decided to show her the wild side of life. He lent her forbidden adult books. He took her dancing, took her to see avaunt garde theater, and took her to meet outrageous people at outrageous parties. Kapler was a man of the world, witty, knowledgeable, a skilled raconteur. The young woman was swept off her feet by this urbane sophisticate. There were problems though: Kepler was married. And he was having an affair with a sixteen year old girl.

Hiding the affair from her family was a must. Hiding it from the girl’s father was especially important. Kapler was a smooth enough operator that he might have kept their affair secret from the girl’s father under normal circumstances. Unfortunately for him, this girl’s father had a particularly suspicious temperament. While something like this temperament is not unusual in any father of a sixteen year old girl, this father was different:

He could have phones tapped.

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Raising Herbie from the Dead

Things weren’t always this way between Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Herbert Clark Hoover.

In 1920, Herbert Hoover was the Greatest American of the Twentieth Centuryâ„¢. Between 1914 and 1920, he saved millions of people in Europe and Russia from starvation by leading the greatest humanitarian aid effort in human history. Worldwide acclaim for Hoover’s efforts led many Americans to push to make him president of the United States.

Both parties eagerly courted Hoover as a candidate. The incumbent president, infernal war criminal and Democrat Thomas Woodrow Wilson, supported Hoover’s nomination as his successor. Even the Democratic Party’s eventual vice presidential nominee, Wilson’s Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt, encouraged Hoover to run for president as a Democrat, remarking that, among the possible nominees for 1920, “There could not be a finer one”.

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[Update] Recommended Podcast: Europe From Its Origins

I linked to the Europe from its Origins podcast earlier. It may not be for everyone since it uses a traditional European historical sensibility, big words, and fancy pants furrin’ pronunciation but since the ChicagoBoyz demographic skews older and wiser, it should give everyone something meaty to chew on (I’d put in your teeth first).

There was a problem with the iTunes link. That problem has been largely fixed (episode 10 points at an image but the link should be eventually correct). I’ve updated the links from my original post below the fold:

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