Reprise Post; At the Tomb of Couperin – Thoughts on a Centenary

(For Veteran’s Day – a reprise post from 2018)

There is a lovely little classical piece by Maurice Ravel – Le Tombeau de Couperin, composed shortly after the end of the war, five of the six movements dedicated to the memory of an individual, and one for a pair of brothers, all close friends of the composer, every one of them fallen in a war of such ghastliness that it not only put paid to a century of optimistic progress, but barely twenty years later it birthed another and hardly less ghastly war. Maurice Ravel himself was over-age, under-tall and not in the most robust of health, but such was the sense of national emergency that he volunteered for the military anyway, eventually serving as a driver – frequently under fire and in danger. Not the usual place to find one of France’s contemporarily-famous composers, but they did things differently at the end of the 19th Century and heading all wide-eyed and optimistic into the 20th. Citizens of the intellectual and artistic ilk were not ashamed of their country, or feel obliged to apologize for a patriotic attachment, or make a show of sullen ingratitude for having been favored by the public in displaying their talents.

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Known Knowns, Known Unknowns, Et Cetera

“There are known knowns, things we know that we know;
and there are known unknowns, things that we know we don’t know.
But there are also unknown unknowns, things we do not know we don’t know.”
– Donald Rumsfeld

So last week’s post regarding the paucity of lefty anti-war protesters regarding the Ukrainian war is still going strong with comments, reminding me once again of the great sage, Donald Rumsfeld, regarding what we know, and what we know that we don’t know … and what we really don’t know that we don’t know.
What do I know for sure about the war? I know that both sides are … parsimonious with the truth about everything that is happening in the zone of conflict, to the point where a truckload of salt is necessary when reading the headlines, no matter if it’s the established print media, or blogs. What to believe? Practically nothing, save that yes, indeed, there is a war and a pretty hot one, too.
I am pretty certain that Ukraine served basically as the Biden family’s ATM. Corrupt government – yeah, that I do believe. But as corrupt than Russia itself, Nigeria, Pakistan, Belarus, South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Venezuela, and other frequent fliers on ‘most corrupt evah!’ list?
I do believe that Putin’s Russia apparently went into the Ukraine believing that it would be a one-two punch and settled to the advantage of Russia within a fortnight. That the war has been going on without a resolution since February of this year argues that Putin and his generals did indeed bite off more than they could chew, seriously overestimating their own capabilities and the Ukrainian will to resist.
The modern Ukrainians are descended from the Cossacks, in culture if not in blood, who had for centuries a tradition of making war … enthusiastically. They also, if I read my history right, still hold a grudge for being subjected to the Holodomor, the mass starvation under Stalin’s harsh rule in the 1930s. And that has to cast a very long shadow, among survivors of that state-instituted horror and their descendants.

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Where Have All the Flowers Gone?*

It’s an ongoing mystery to me, in this year of 2022, with a hot war going on in the Ukraine and the Biden Administration (or the Kalorama Kominturn which apparently holds the puppet strings) apparently doing everything it can to provoke Russia into turning the war even hotter … that the usual peace activists, who have been out to protest US involvement in every conflict going since I was in the 6th grade are nowhere to be found. Seriously, where are they – the usual peace activists, with their signs and protests at the gates of military bases, at recruiting offices and at the Pentagon … where are they? Where are the activist priests and nuns, the 60’s retreads, the determined if slightly addled, who used to routinely break into the back reaches of certain air bases in the southwest, searching for munitions and aircraft that they could splash blood-red paint and slogans all over, much to the bafflement of the security police patrols who often found them wandering in the desert, armed with buckets of paint and towering self-righteousness … yes, I had acquaintances in the security police back then, who often regaled me with tales like this.
Every time that matters of a military nature with regard to the US were about to turn from a warm simmer to red hot – there they were, on the ground, fulminating in the groves of academy, or on the pages of such reliably progressive publications like Harper’s, of the NY Times, and in the streets of Washington D.C. – there were the peace activists protesting. It was like the birds flying south for the winter; regular and predictable, until now. So, where are the deeply and ostentatiously committed peaceniks now? Are they out protesting the very real possibility of a nuclear war with Russia over independence of the Ukraine? Where are the Ramsay Clarkes, Noam Chomskys, even the Cindy Sheehans of 2022, the impassioned student peace marchers?
There was always a suspicion – and depending on the year and the conflict – a well-founded suspicion that many organized peace and anti-nuclear protest groups were Soviet-funded – and if so, I do wonder if they still are. Are the Soviet checks bouncing, or are they not being sent at all, since … open war with the United States is what Putin and his allies in what remains of the Soviet Union really want? Could it be that the Biden Administration also wants an open war with Russia, as a distraction and a ready excuse to crack down on critics and political opposition? Place your bets, ladies, gentlemen and uncommitted beings. Your insights are appreciated.

* Classical reference, link here.

Miscellaneous Business/Economics/Energy Items

Apple is going to make Watches and MacBooks in Vietnam.  (More precisely, Apple suppliers will make the products there.  “Make” in this context meaning mostly “assemble”, I think.)  Apple is also planning to produce the iPhone 14 in India, with only about a 2-month lag from its initial production in China.

Intel will be partnering with Brookfield Infrastructure Partners to help pay for factory expansion projects, with Brookfield contributing up to $30 billion.  Most immediately, the money will pay for the expansion of Intel’s Ocotillo manufacturing campus in Chandler, Arizona, with Intel funding 51% and Brookfield funding 49% of the total project cost.  (This is pretty different from BIP’s typical investments, which tend to involve such things as railroads, toll roads, pipelines, and electricity transmission)

A useful overview of planned and in-development fabs, worldwide.

Electricity prices, marginal costs, and the last kilowatt.

Texas has banned BlackRock and several other firms from doing business with the state.

Finland may be facing power outages this winter.  On the other hand, if their Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant goes into production at the end of the year, as planned, this should help a lot.  Another plant is planned, taking total nuclear contribution in Finland to 60%.

Also,perhaps a way could be found to harness the power from their PM’s very high-energy dancing.  (If other Western leaders could dance like that, would it somehow influence their minds to adopt more rational energy policies?)

Elsewhere in Europe, skyrocketing energy prices are causing a lot of hardship–and will surely create serious economic pressures as much manufacturing in the affected countries becomes cost-prohibitive)

The Euro is not doing very well versus the dollar.  More here.

Paul Graham:

f you think people have scar tissue, you should see organizations. Each time there’s a disaster, they create a process to prevent future disasters of that type. Eventually they accrete a thick layer of these processes that prevents them from moving. Then they die.

It’s Called Acting, Dear Boy

Or so Laurence Olivier is supposed to have said to Dustin Hoffman, during the filming of The Marathon Man, when Hoffman got a little too deeply immersed in his role.

It’s acting – convincingly pretending to be a person you are not; experiencing events and emotions on the stage or screen that the actor might or might not have really experienced. It’s pretending, in the service of storytelling. In our current over-the-top state of extreme wokery, any kind of illogical insanity seems to rule; in this latest example, an American soprano singer, one Angela Blue, has made a great show out of quitting an opera performance, because of her objections to another opera performance and singer in the same venue. Angela Blue objected vociferously to Russian soprano Anna Netrebko singing in the title role of Aida, while made-up to appear as … gasp … Ethiopian. (A production design originated by the late Franco Zeffirelli, as an aside.) Angela Blue, who is African-American, terms it as ‘blackface’, although comparing serious grand opera to the buffoonery of vaudeville minstrel shows of a century ago is considerable of a stretch. What adds an interesting twist to this, is that the opera performance which Angela Blue walked away from was La Traviata, and her role as Violetta – a French courtesan, and in the original concept, a woman not of any color save lily-white.

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