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  • Archive for February, 2014

    History Friday: “Joint” Communications in the Central Pacific

    Posted by Trent Telenko on 14th February 2014 (All posts by )

    In my last two columns (See article links here and here) I have been following the thread of the US Navy’s visual and radio communications style and how it affected the US Navy’s night fighting and amphibious styles in the Guadalcanal/Solomons campaigns and during the landing at Tarawa respectively. Today’s column continues that US Navy communications thread and weaves it together with several other threads from previous columns including ones on

    • Intra-service politics regarding sea mining in the Pacific War,
    • Theater amphibious fighting styles,
    • A quirk of in promotion policy in the WW2 US Army’s military culture, and
    • The Ultra distribution war between MacArthur and both the Navy & War Department intelligence mandarins

    (See links here, here, here and here) so as to tell the story of how the US Navy’s interwar mania for controlling radio communications turned into a huge problem of interservice politics that hurt the war effort in the Pacific.

    U.S. Navy Shipboard Radio Room showing WWII RAK/RAL & RAO/RBL receivers along with the LM Freq Meter far  upper right and the Scott SLR receiver located just below the order binders.   Source: Radio Boulevard Western Historic Radio Museum online at http://www.radioblvd.com/WWII-PostWar%20Hamgear.htm

    U.S. Navy Shipboard Radio Room showing WWII RAK/RAL & RAO/RBL receivers along with the LM Freq Meter far upper right and the Scott SLR receiver located just below the order binders. Source: Radio Boulevard Western Historic Radio Museum online at http://www.radioblvd.com/WWII-PostWar%20Hamgear.htm

    The US Navy’s fighting style, in the Pacific from Pearl Harbor through Okinawa, was characterized by naval centric “joint” warfare where the Navy was always first among equals and most staff work was done under Adm. Nimitz’s eyes. Where that “First among equals” theater fighting style rubbed the US Army wrong most heavily was with the Navy’s centralized style with radio communications.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Okinawa 65, USA, War and Peace | 7 Comments »

    Under Water

    Posted by Sgt. Mom on 14th February 2014 (All posts by )

    A large part of the British Isles is – apparently under water – just as a large part of the US is snowed in. The up side of too much rain is that you don’t have to shovel the rain our of your driveway so that you can get to work. The bad side of too much rain is that you can’t shovel it out of your driveway…

    Anyway, I ran across this article in the Spectator (which I used to read on-line a lot before they re-did their site and put the best stuff behind a pay-wall…) about the massive flooding in one particular area. Blame it on the EU, apparently. And super-greenie environmentalists.

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Civil Society, Europe | 8 Comments »

    Worthwhile Reading & Viewing

    Posted by David Foster on 14th February 2014 (All posts by )

    A Valentine’s Day story from Sheila O’Malley

    Some thoughts on the color green from Gerard Van der Leun

    Germany’s war against homeschooling, and Obama’s complicity therein

    Early industrial capitalism: myths and realities

    Cashing in on connections in Washington

    The crisis of the administrative state

    Is Common Core encouraging a generic and simplistic approach to literature?

    Why does the question “do you like horror movies?” have predictive power when it comes to how long a relationship will last?

    Liberalism and the credentialist conceit

     

    Posted in Big Government, Business, Economics & Finance, Education, Germany, History, Human Behavior, Political Philosophy, Politics | 2 Comments »

    Is Venezuela Collapsing ?

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 14th February 2014 (All posts by )

    UPDATE #2: The western bloc is growing while the Atlantic bloc stagnates.

    Venezuela, Brazil and Argentina are languishing in differing shades of turmoil, steadily losing ground to regional underdogs. The Pacific Alliance, an historic trade agreement between Mexico, Peru, Chile, and Colombia (and coming soon: Costa Rica), has the potential to recolor Latin America’s economic map and introduce some new regional powerhouses to the world stage.

    More here.

    Four nations are developing an initiative that could add new dynamism to Latin America, redraw the economic map of the region, and boost its connections with the rest of the world—especially Asia. It could also offer neighboring countries a pragmatic alternative to the more political groupings dominated by Brazil, Cuba, and Venezuela.

    UPDATE: More on the role Cuba is playing in Venezuela now.

    Belmont Club has a good post today on the collapse of Venezuela. The car manufacturers have announced they are closing their plants.

    Toyota Motor Co. said it would shut down its assembly operations in Venezuela due to the government’s foreign exchange controls that have crippled imports and made it impossible to bring in parts needed to build its vehicles.

    The country’s other car manufacturers, including General Motors and Ford, haven’t even started operations this year, while waiting for needed parts to arrive.

    The oil field workers left years ago when the Chavez government cut oil workers’ pay.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Americas, Civil Liberties, Cuba, International Affairs, Iran, Latin America | 20 Comments »

    Nagin Set To Go To Jail

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 13th February 2014 (All posts by )

    Much has been written both here and elsewhere about Hurricane Katrina, and one of the last chapters was written in court yesterday.

    Ray Nagin, the ex mayor of New Orleans, who we saw pointing fingers, yelling, cursing, and giving us the “woe is us” routine for days and weeks on end after Katrina, was convicted on seven million counts of bribery, wire fraud, filing false income tax returns, and setting fire to children. Well, not that last part.

    Many of the crimes were from his pre-Katrina days as the standard, run of the mill mayor scam in New Orleans. I imagine these crimes are the tip of the iceburg but I will take it. He will be spending the next 15 plus years in jail.

    Posted in Civil Society, Crime and Punishment, New Orleans Tragedy | 22 Comments »

    Sink It

    Posted by Jonathan on 12th February 2014 (All posts by )

    A couple of Iranian navy ships are slowly making their way to the Americas. What’s going on? J. E. Dyer has a long and thoughtful post:

    That said, two things are worth reiterating. One, the U.S. does not have a constant-ready missile defense network that would protect the central and southeastern United States from an MRBM threat emanating from the south. We are unprotected on this axis. Shifting to a footing of 24/365 alert and anti-missile protection – e.g., by deploying Patriot systems in the continental U.S. or Navy Aegis ships offshore – would constitute a new, un-resourced requirement. We’d have to cut back defense operations elsewhere to meet it.
     
    Two, our ability to react against the “shooter” is limited by the forces we have ready today. We don’t have extra ships and aircraft to deploy for a deterrent presence in Central America. We could react after the fact with B-2 bombers, and possibly other conventional forms of attack, such as submarine-launched cruise missiles and ballistic missiles with conventional warheads. But we would have to attack to mount a response, in (most probably) Venezuela or Cuba, and that response would be inherently escalatory.
     
    It’s quite possible that our current administration would view that as a bridge too far. Realistically, I think the military would view the prospect with strong disfavor. Our ready forces would not have such a preponderance of power, or such advantages of geography, that we could do it easily and without inconvenience.
     
    Bottom line: MRBMs down south would constitute a material transformation of our security footing in the hemisphere. It’s a development we couldn’t live with.
     
    […]
     
    The “red flag” in this whole saga is the concentration of verbal threats from the Iranians, at a time when they are making an unprecedented naval deployment to the Americas; they are mounting an unusual outreach with Fatah; and they are close enough to nuclearization – even by the expected route, as opposed to the speculative North Korean option – that dashing to the finish line is the only step left.
     
    The quality of some of the Iranian threats is deeply silly. But this doesn’t have the feel of random nuttiness to it. The Iranians are up to something.

    I agree with Dyer, who implies in the post (and states explicitly in a comment) that the lowest-risk course of action for us would be to sink the ship of the two that has a hold big enough to transport ballistic missiles.

    Dyer’s argument is long and well supported. You will have to read the whole thing to get the full thrust of her reasoning.

    My take on Iran continues to be that if it gets nuclear weapons, as now seems certain, it will use them. It will not necessarily use them to attack Israel or otherwise blow some place up, at least not in the near future. It will use them to gain leverage, to extort valuable concessions from its adversaries, including us. Obama’s feckless appeasement of the mullahs has whetted their appetite for aggression and confirmed that they have at least three more years of clear sailing ahead. They will press this advantage. We are not going to be able to contain them, because they will continue to look for opportunities to place us in situations where our disinclination to fight will give them victories by default. The current situation, with the two ships, appears to be the opener. We have a lot to lose. If we want to stop Iran we are going to have to confront it militarily at some point. The sooner we do this the less costly it will be.

    Posted in Americas, Cuba, Current Events, International Affairs, Iran, Israel, Military Affairs, National Security, War and Peace | 61 Comments »

    “Let All the Poisons That Lurk in the Mud, Hatch Out”

    Posted by David Foster on 12th February 2014 (All posts by )

    A long series of derogatory tweets about Shirley Temple, by people who just cannot stand the fact that she was a Republican. Read a few of these, if you can stand it. There’s a lot of rage there, a lot of hate…can anyone doubt that many of those posting these tweets would like to see their political opponents killed, or at least thrown into concentration camps?

    The politicization of all aspects of American life continues apace.

    Andrew Breitbart observed correctly that politics is downstream from culture…but there is also a feedback path going the other direction: politics does influence culture, also. And clearly, the stoking of resentment and bitterness by Barack Obama…and really, by what is now the mainstream of the Democratic Party…has had a terribly corrosive effect on American society.

    Posted in Civil Society, Human Behavior, Politics, USA | 9 Comments »

    Her Inevitableness

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

    This is what I used to call her, in blog posts at ncobrief.com during the run-up to the 2008 primaries; Hillary Clinton; who seemed so … inevitable. She would be there, a power to behold and take seriously in the presidential primaries. “In the place of a Dark Lord you would have a Queen! Not dark but beautiful and terrible as the Morn! Treacherous as the Seas! Stronger than the foundations of the Earth! All shall love me and despair!”
    Well, I am certain that some of Hillary Clinton’s supporters have loved and despaired, in the resulting contest between ebony and ovary in the 2008 primaries. Eh – I didn’t care at the time, still don’t care and can’t be made to care. I will note for the record that my daughter was taking college classes then, and both of us were annoyed beyond all reason by the assumption that because we were both women, and politically involved, that we were OF COURSE all about Hillary. Our support was taken as a matter of fact. THE FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT! This possibility was apparently intended to make us both go wobbly in the knees and vote with our vaginas instead of our brains.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Conservatism, Media, Middle East, Military Affairs, Politics, Terrorism | 23 Comments »

    In Case You Have Been Wondering What Gollum is up to These Days…

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

    LINK

    Posted in Humor, Media | 3 Comments »

    Straighten Up!

    Posted by Jonathan on 10th February 2014 (All posts by )

    The convoluted trunk of a slash pine tree in Everglades National Park, Florida. (Jonathan Gewirtz   jonathan@gewirtz.net)

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    Studying “Frankenstein” Without Reading “Frankenstein”

    Posted by David Foster on 9th February 2014 (All posts by )

    Here’s an English textbook, “The British Tradition,” which devotes 17 pages to Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein.”

    Two of those are taken up by modern author Elizabeth McCracken telling students about the scary movies she watched as a child, including Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein as well as dreams she had. Under the heading “Critical Reading,” students are asked what movies McCracken watched as a child. Another page features a hokey picture of a Frankenstein monster circa 1955.

    In the margins of the Teacher’s Edition to the textbook, teachers are encouraged to ask their students what “classic” stories of urban myths, tales of alien abductions, or ghost stories they have heard. Examples include stories of alligators in sewers, a man abducted for his kidneys, and aliens landing in Roswell, New Mexico. Students are asked to write a paragraph on “one of these modern urban myths.” The learning continues when students are challenged to write “a brief autobiography of a monster.” The editors lament that most monster stories are told from the perspective of “the humans confronting the monster.” They want to turn the tables by having students consider “what monsters think about their treatment.”  Those poor, misunderstood monsters!

    (As Joanne Jacobs notes, the lament that most monster stories are told from the perspective of the humans rather than the monster completely ignores the fact that much of Frankenstein is told from the monster’s perspective, albeit as quoted by Victor Frankenstein,  the first-person narrator.)

    Three pages out of the seventeen feature Mary Shelley’s actual words on them. But they are not selections from the novel or any kind of preparation for reading the novel. Rather, they are taken from an introduction Shelley wrote about writing the novel. The only indication that students are encouraged to read Frankenstein is a box in the margin of the Teacher’s Edition indicating that the “advanced readers” who are “interested” might read a “segment” of the novel in order to compare the monster to Shelley’s description in her introduction. 

    The book allocates five pages (two more than are given to Mary Shelley) to a script of a Saturday Night Live parody of Frankenstein. First, students are invited “to share their impressions of the long-running comedy show.” Again the talented-and-gifted students are called to the fore, as they are supposed to obtain props, costumes, and make-up that will enable them to “take roles and do a dramatic reading” of the script.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Academia, Arts & Letters, Education, USA | 19 Comments »

    Thanks to the Men’s Group at St. John of the Cross Church, Western Springs, IL

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

    Thanks to the Men’s Group at St. John of the Cross Catholic Church, in Western Springs, Illinois, for inviting me to speak to them about America 3.0 this Saturday. Two big cups of coffee put me in good trim. 40 minutes me talking, about 45 of lively and pointed questions and discussion. It was great to see the big turnout on a cold Saturday morning. Perhaps I even convinced one or more of them that America’s greatest days are yet to come! I hope so.

    Posted in America 3.0 | Comments Off on Thanks to the Men’s Group at St. John of the Cross Church, Western Springs, IL

    2016 Presidential Odds

    Posted by Dan from Madison on 8th February 2014 (All posts by )

    I really, really miss InTrade. Looks like they are going to start up again, but after the last debacle, I don’t see how they can ever establish a level of trust that will get them really going again. I think that eventually internet gambling and the sure flow of revenue will get the best of all of the states (except perhaps Utah and maybe one or two others) and we will be able to place wagers from the comfort of our offices and homes. But that is certainly grist for another post.

    For now, we only have the British bookies to lean on, and we don’t have futures markets; instead, we have straight up odds. Here is a look a the odds as of today for the next President:

    Hillary Clinton – 7-4
    Marco Rubio – 9-1
    Chris Christie – 10-1
    Jeb Bush – 14-1
    Paul Ryan – 16-1
    Andrew Cuomo – 20-1
    Elizabeth Warren – 20-1
    Rand Paul – 20-1
    Martin O’Malley – 25-1
    Rob Portman – 25-1
    Bob McDonnell – 33-1
    Condoleeza Rice – 33-1
    Deval Patrick – 33-1
    Joe Biden – 33-1
    Mark Warner – 33-1
    Rahm Emmanuel – 33-1
    Susana Martinez – 33-1
    Bobby Jindal – 40-1
    Michael Bloomberg – 40-1
    Scott Walker – 40-1
    Amy Klobuchar – 50-1
    Cory Booker – 50-1
    David Petraeus – 50-1
    Jon Huntsman – 50-1
    Mike Huckabee – 50-1
    Mitt Romney – 50-1
    Rick Santorum – 50-1
    Sam Graves – 50-1
    Sarah Palin – 50-1
    Tim Kaine – 50-1
    Eric Cantor – 66-1
    Evan Bayh – 66-1
    Mike Pence – 66-1
    Dennis Kucinich – 100-1
    Herman Cain – 100-1
    John Kasich – 100-1
    John Thune – 100-1
    Julian Castro – 100-1
    Kathleen Sebelius – 100-1
    Kay Hagan – 100-1
    Mia Love – 100-1
    Michelle Obama – 100-1
    Newt Gingrich – 100-1
    Rick Perry – 100-1

    So, a few thoughts. I don’t live in a cave, but I am not a political junkie either. I listen to probably 45 minutes or so of financial news on Bloomberg every day on my drive to and from work, and they sprinkle in a news cast twice an hour. I also quickly scan a news website or two per day. So I don’t know if I am above or below average as far as my media/news consumption goes. With that disclosure, I have never heard of:

    Martin O Malley
    Deval Patrick
    Susanna Martinez
    Amy Klobuchar
    Sam Graves
    Tim Kaine
    Mike Pence
    Julian Castro
    Kay Hagan
    Mia Love (sounds like a prON actress)

    Your mileage will vary depending on where you live, but I would guess that most folks in the US have never even heard of at least a third of these candidates.

    Rahm Emmanuel is on there? Michelle Obama? No way.

    The Hillary! odds are daunting. She is the obvious front runner, but it is a LONG time from November 2016 and she can for sure do very poorly in any debate. Looking forward to the Benghazi hazing when the time comes.

    I know who I would vote for in a heartbeat and most regular readers of this blog can probably make an educated guess as to who that would be, but I don’t want to taint the conversation with my pick. Let’s hear your thoughts on this list of odds.

    Cross posted at LITGM.

    Posted in Politics | 31 Comments »

    Sunset

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th February 2014 (All posts by )

    Everglades Sunset

    Posted in Photos | 1 Comment »

    History Friday – Becoming the Other, Part 2

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

    Part one is here – a meditation on how suddenly a group of citizens became the ‘other’ during the Civil War.

    In the wake of a military crackdown on a region perceived to be in rebellion – philosophically and perhaps politically – against the State of Texas and the Confederacy, a series of military trials of an assortment of civilians and local militia volunteers was held in San Antonio in the late summer and early autumn of 1862. Storekeeper Julius Schlickum was the first convicted, although no one testifying at his trial could say anything worse of him than his enthusiasm for the Confederacy was markedly restrained. The second prisoner convicted in the commission hearings had considerably more meat and justification to the charges laid against him; Philip Braubach, formerly elected sheriff of Gillespie County. Braubach was an outspoken Unionist, an associate of Jacob Keuchler – another Unionist, a farmer and surveyor who had trained as a forester in Germany.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Liberties, Civil Society, Germany, History, Politics, War and Peace | 3 Comments »

    Michael Lotus Discussing America 3.0 on “A Closer Look with Sheila Liaugminus”, February 12, 2014

    Posted by Lexington Green on 7th February 2014 (All posts by )

    Thanks to Sheila Liaugminas, of Relevant Radio, for interviewing me this Tuesday about America 3.0.

    This interview will be the the first of a three-part discussion about America 3.0.

    The show will be broadcast next week, February 12, 2014 at 5:00 p.m. CST.

    The link to Sheila’s Face Book page is here.

    Posted in America 3.0 | Comments Off on Michael Lotus Discussing America 3.0 on “A Closer Look with Sheila Liaugminus”, February 12, 2014

    It Isn’t Nice to Kick Someone When He’s Down…

    Posted by David Foster on 6th February 2014 (All posts by )

    …but the woes at Sony Corporation remind me of a couple of my posts about the path this company has been taking.

    From March, 2005:

    The New York Times (3/13, registration required) quotes Sir Howard Stringer, the new chief executive of Sony, arguing for mutual benefit between his company’s electronics and entertainment divisions. At the Consumer Electronics Show last month, Sir Howard said, “A device without content is nothing but scrap metal.”

    Following the chain of logic he seems to be developing, we could also argue that a car without fuel is scrap metal…and therefore, auto companies need to own oil companies. Or that computers are useless without software…so all computer manufacturers need to possess large software operations.

    Randall Stoss, author of the NYT article, observes that Sir Howard’s remark is “a platitude beneath mention–unless, perhaps, one were a mite defensive about owning both a widget factory and an entertainment factory.” Stoss goes on to credit the success of the iPod (far greater than Sony’s competitive product) to the fact that Apple has not pursued synergies between device and content…

    A company thrives when it has all that it needs to make a compelling product and is undistracted by fractiousness among divisions that resent being told to make decisions based upon family obligations, not market considerations.

    From September 2012:

    In his Financial Times article Why Sony did not invent the iPod, John Kay notes that there have been many cases in which large corporations saw correctly that massive structural changes were about to hit their industries–attempted to position themselves for these changes by executing acquisitions or joint ventures–and failed utterly. As examples he cites Sony’s purchase of CBC Records and Columbia Pictures, the AT&T acquisition of NCR, and the dreadful AOL/Time Warner affair. He summarizes the reason why these things don’t tend to work:

    A collection of all the businesses which might be transformed by disruptive innovation might at first sight appear to be a means of assembling the capabilities needed to manage change. In practice, it is a means of gathering together everyone who has an incentive to resist change. 

    I’d also note that the kinds of vertical integration represented by the above mergers don’t exactly encourage other companies–which were not competitors prior to the merger but have become so afterwards–to participate in an ecosystem.
    Kay references the work of Clayton Christensen, whose book The Innovator’s Solution I reviewed here.  See also Mergers, Acquisitions, Princesses, and Toads.

     

    Posted in Business, Management, Tech | 19 Comments »

    John Robb’s HomeFree America

    Posted by Lexington Green on 6th February 2014 (All posts by )

    Have you been reading HomeFree America?

    You should be. It is “John Robb’s open notebook on the future of the American Dream.” It is also the first draft of the book he is working on.

    Mr. Robb’s analysis of the collapse of the Blue Model, 20th Century legacy government and economy is very similar to the arguments made by James C. Bennett and myself in our book America 3.0. He sees, as we do, that they are doomed. He sees, as we do, that a much better world is coming. Ah, but the transition period. That will be a challenge.

    This is the quote of the day:

    All layers of government — city, state, and federal — want the old, bureaucratic economy to continue, unchanged. They can’t imagine a world without plentiful flows of taxes levied on corporate profits and withholding from personal incomes.
     
    Without this flow of tax income, the entire edifice of the current economy falls. It is the source of the financial life-support to the increasingly obsolete bureaucracies – from the civil bureaucracy to education to national security to banking to health care — that still offer traditional jobs. The rest is spent providing services, from health care to retirement income, in an attempt to keep the existing economic system alive.

    From this post.

    People who tell me the the current corrupt model cannot be defeated have it backward. It cannot survive. The only question is how hard the transition to a better political and economic order will be. Not if, not even when, but how.

    Posted in America 3.0, Announcements, Blogging, Book Notes | 8 Comments »

    Fear of Robots: Mainframe-Era Version

    Posted by David Foster on 6th February 2014 (All posts by )

    New Yorker cartoon by David Langdon. (click to expand) I can’t find a date for this, but it was probably sometime in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

    Posted in Economics & Finance, Tech | 3 Comments »

    Mike Lotus to speak at the The David Horowitz Freedom Center West Coast Retreat, March 21-23, 2014

    Posted by Lexington Green on 5th February 2014 (All posts by )

    Big thanks to the David Horowitz Freedom Center for their kind invitation to speak at their West Coast Retreat.

    I look forward to spreading the word about America 3.0 in sunny California.

    Whoa. Terranea Resort in Palos Verdes, CA sure looks like a nice place.

    Posted in America 3.0, Announcements | 6 Comments »

    The Depression may be here.

    Posted by Michael Kennedy on 4th February 2014 (All posts by )

    I have believed for some time that we were entering another Depression. I have previously posted about it.

    The Great Depression did not really get going until the Roosevelt Administration got its anti-business agenda enacted after 1932. The 1929 crash was a single event, much like the 2008 panic. It took major errors in economic policy to make matters worse. Some were made by Hoover, who was a “progressive” but they continued under Roosevelt.

    I posted that statement earlier and it got a rather vigorous rebuttal. I still believe it, however. I think a depression is coming soon. What is more, I am not the only one. Or even only one of two.

    The second article preceded the election of 2012 but is still valid.

    When employment hit an air pocket in December, most analysts brushed off the dreadful jobs number as an anomaly, or a function of the weather. They chose to believe Ben Bernanke rather than their lying eyes. It’s hard to ignore a second signal that the U.S. economy is dead in the water, though: on Monday the Institute for Supply Management reported the steepest drop in manufacturing orders since December 1980:

    fredgraph

    In January, only 51% of manufacturers reported a rise in new orders, vs. 64% in December. Not only did the U.S. economy stop hiring in December, with just 74,000 workers added to payrolls; it stopped ordering new equipment. The drop in orders is something that only has occurred during recessions (denoted by the shaded blue portions of the chart). The Commerce Department earlier reported a sharp drop in December orders for durable goods. In current dollars, durable goods orders are unchanged from a year ago, which is to say they are lower after inflation.

    So, the economy stopped hiring, even at the poor pace the past five years have seen, but business also stopped buying.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Big Government, Britain, Business, Health Care, Obama, Politics, Taxes, Tea Party, Urban Issues | 33 Comments »

    Why the Grand Inquisitor Sentenced Jesus Christ to be Burned at the Stake

    Posted by David Foster on 3rd February 2014 (All posts by )

    It seems that Jesus Christ returned to earth, sometime during the sixteenth century…at least, this is the premise of the parable that Ivan relates to Alyosha, in Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s novel The Brothers Karamazov.  The city to which Christ came was  Seville,  where on the previous day before almost a hundred heretics had been burnt by the cardinal, the Grand Inquisitor, “in a magnificent auto da fe, in the presence of the king, the court, the knights, the cardinals, the most charming ladies of the court, and the whole population of Seville. He came softly, unobserved, and yet, strange to say, everyone recognised Him.”

    But the Grand Inquisitor observes the way in which people are being irresistibly drawn to Jesus, and causes him to be arrested and taken away.

    The crowd instantly bows down to the earth, like one man, before the old Inquisitor. He blesses the people in silence and passes on. The guards lead their prisoner to the close, gloomy vaulted prison- in the ancient palace of the Holy  Inquisition and shut him in it. The day passes and is followed by the dark, burning, ‘breathless’ night of Seville. The air is ‘fragrant with laurel and lemon.’ In the pitch darkness the iron door of the prison is suddenly opened and the Grand Inquisitor himself comes in with a light in his hand. He is alone; the door is closed at once behind him. He stands in the doorway and for a minute or two gazes into His face. At last he goes up slowly, sets the light on the table and speaks.

    “‘Is it Thou? Thou?’ but receiving no answer, he adds at once. ‘Don’t answer, be silent. What canst Thou say, indeed? I know too well what Thou wouldst say. And Thou hast no right to add anything to what Thou hadst said of old. Why, then, art Thou come to hinder us?

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters, Book Notes, Christianity, Civil Liberties, Human Behavior, Political Philosophy, Religion, Russia | 9 Comments »

    To Become the ‘Other’

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

    I suppose that my thoughts were running this week on the theory and practice of ‘otherizing’ because my work in the Tiny Bidness has brought me full-face with a prime example of how upright good citizens, patriotic as they saw it, were brought by a turn of the political wheel into being accused criminals, brought before a military commission and charged with crimes which – if found guilty of by the tribunal – could have drawn a capital sentence. That the several found guilty of disloyalty to the régime and sentenced to death, imprisonment, exile or a heavy fine did in most cases, escape the worst of it and return to lives of post-war prosperity and respect must have been of cold comfort at the time.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Civil Liberties, Civil Society, History, Human Behavior, Law Enforcement | 8 Comments »

    Barry Rubin ז״ל

    Posted by Jonathan on 3rd February 2014 (All posts by )

    Instapundit notes the passing of Barry Rubin, whose Rubin Report posts (later shared on PJ Media) were among the most thoughtful and accessible analyses of Middle Eastern politics. This is a great loss. My condolences to Mr. Rubin’s family.

    Posted in Middle East, Obits | 1 Comment »

    “When a fly falls into a cup of coffee…”

    Posted by Jonathan on 2nd February 2014 (All posts by )

    (Via The Augean Stables, The Jewish Chronicle Online and Free Republic. Original source unknown.)

    —-

    WHEN A FLY FALLS INTO A CUP OF COFFEE
     
    The Italian – throws the cup, breaks it, and walks away in a fit of rage.
     
    The German – carefully washes the cup, sterilizes it and makes a new cup of coffee.
     
    The Frenchman – takes out the fly, and drinks the coffee.
     
    The Chinese – eats the fly and throws away the coffee.
     
    The Russian – Drinks the coffee with the fly, since it was extra with no charge.
     
    The Israeli – sells the coffee to the Frenchman, sells the fly to the Chinese, sells the cup to the Italian, drinks a cup of tea, and uses the extra money to invent a device that prevents flies from falling into coffee.
     
    The Palestinian – blames the Israeli for the fly falling into his coffee, protests the act of aggression to the UN, takes a loan from the European Union to buy a new cup of coffee, uses the money to purchase explosives and then blows up the coffee house where the Italian, the Frenchman, the Chinese, the German and the Russian are all trying to explain to the Israeli that he should give away his cup of tea to the Palestinian…

    Posted in Humor | 9 Comments »