Worthwhile Reading and Viewing

There’s been lots of talk about the need for the US to produce more of its own semiconductor chips–but it’s not just the making of the chips that matters, it’s also the making of the machines that make the chips.  The market for the highest-end chipmaking equipment is dominated by the Dutch company ASML, which now will be prohibited from exporting these machines to China, per Dutch government agreement with US request.

ASML’s current high-end lithography machine has over 100,000 components and takes 40 freight containers to ship.  Unsurprisingly, ASML’s CEO says that the export restrictions will simply push China to create its own technology, and also unsurprisingly, David Goldman (‘Spengler’) agrees.

Mark Andreessen says The most important idea and paper I’ve encountered in the last 20 years is “availability cascades”.  His summary here.

The strategic importance of the Black Sea, especially as it relates to the Ukraine War.

Dating dealbreakers for women.

Speaking of dating, here’s a study suggesting that creative output leads to mating opportunities.

Ridicule:  Some thoughts at The Orthosphere.

Violence and Self-Esteem: Some thoughts on the connection.

How people kept multiple tabs open in the 1500s:

Harrison Bergeroning

I have noted stories of high schools dropping honors and AP classes in the name of so-called ‘equity’ like this lately, with a great deal of sadness and sympathy for those kids who would have benefited most from more challenging classes. The intelligent, motivated and intellectually-gifted students are bored beyond all reason by the standard classes – I know that I certainly was, and my high school days were from 1969-1972 in a largely white blue-collar working-class to no-class suburb of Los Angeles. This was when California public schools were still pretty good, and students were ‘tracked’ by abilities as well as interest in higher learning. I’d estimate that only thirty or forty out of a graduating class of 600 or so were tracked towards the Honors/AE classes; Sunland-Tujunga was, as I said before, a blue-collar, working-class community, with a small sprinkling of middle-class. My own mother was about as pushy a tiger-mom as there was, and her collegiate ambitions for us didn’t go much beyond the state university system, never mind any of the west coast Ivies. An east-coast Ivy wasn’t even in the same universe.

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Book Review: The Year of the French (rerun)

The Year of the French, by Thomas Flanagan

St Patrick’s day gives me a good hook for re-posting this review, in the hope of inspiring a few more people to read this superb book.  Ralph Peters calls it “the finest historical novel written in English, at least in the twentieth century,” going on to say “except for ‘The Leopard,’ I know of no historical novel that so richly and convincingly captures the ambience of a bygone world.”

In August of 1798, the French revolutionary government landed 1000 troops in County Mayo to support indigenous Irish rebels, with the objective of overthrowing British rule in Ireland.  The Year of the French tells the (fictionalized but fact-based) story of these events from the viewpoint of several characters, representing different groups in the complex and strife-ridden Irish social structure of the time.

Owen MacCarthy is a schoolmaster and poet who writes in the Gaelic tradition.  He is pressed by illiterate locals to write a threatening letter to a landlord who has evicted tenants while switching land from farming to cattle-raising.  With his dark vision of how an attempt at rebellion must end–“In Caslebar.  They will load you in carts with your wrists tied behind you and take you down to Castlebar and try you there and hang you there”–MacCarthy is reluctant to get involved, but he writes the letter.

Sam Cooper, the recipient of the letter, is a small-scale landlord, and captain of the local militia.  Indigenously Irish, his family converted to Protestantism several generations ago to avoid the crippling social and economic disabilities imposed on Catholics. Cooper’s wife, Kate, herself still Catholic, is a beautiful and utterly ruthless woman…she advises Cooper to respond to the letter by rounding up “a few of the likeliest rogues,”  jailing and flogging them, without any concern for actual guilt or innocence. “My God, what a creature you are for a woman,”  Cooper responds. “It is a man you should have been born.”  “A strange creature that would make me in your bed,” Kate fires back, “It is a woman I am, and fine cause you have to know it…What matters now is who has the land and who will keep it.”

Ferdy O’Donnell  is a young hillside farmer on Cooper’s land.  Far back in the past, the land was owned by the O’Donnell family…Ferdy had once shown Cooper  “a valueless curiosity, a parchment that recorded the fact in faded ink the colour of old, dried blood.”

Arthur Vincent Broome is a Protestant clergyman who is not thrilled by the “wild and dismal region” to which he has been assigned, but who performs his duties as best he can. Broome is resolved to eschew religious bigotry, but…”I affirm most sincerely that distinctions which rest upon creed mean little to me, and yet I confess that my compassion for their misery is mingled with an abhorrence of their alien ways…they live and thrive in mud and squalour…their music, for all that antiquarians and fanatics can find to say in its flavor, is wild and savage…they combine a grave and gentle courtesy with a murderous violence that erupts without warning…”‘

Malcolm Elliott is a Protestant landlord and solicitor, and a member of the Society of United Irishmen.  This was a revolutionary group with Enlightenment ideals, dedicated to bringing Catholics and Protestants together in the cause of overthrowing British rule and establishing an Irish Republic.  His wife, Judith, is an Englishwoman with romantic ideas about Ireland.

John Moore, also a United Irishman, is a member of one of the few Catholic families that have managed to hold on to their land.  He is in love with Ellen Treacy, daughter of another prominent Catholic family: she returns his love, but believes that he is caught in a web of words that can only lead to disaster.  “One of these days you will say a loose word to some fellow and he will get on his horse and ride off to Westport to lay an information with Dennis Browne, and that will be the last seen of you”

Dennis Browne is High Sheriff of Mayo…smooth, manipulative, and devoted to the interests of the very largest landowners in the county, such as his brother Lord Altamont and the mysterious Lord Glenthorne, the “Big Lord” who owns vast landholdings and an immense house which he has never visited.

Randall MacDonnell is a Catholic landowner with a decrepit farm and house, devoted primarily to his horses.  His motivations for joining the rebellion are quite different from those of the idealistic United Irishmen…”For a hundred years of more, those Protestant bastards have been the cocks of the walk, strutting around on acres that belong by rights to the Irish…there are men still living who remember when a son could grab his father’s land by turning Protestant.”

Jean Joseph Humbert is the commander of the French forces.  A former dealer in animal skins, he owes his position in life to the revolution.  He is a talented commander, but  the battle he is most concerned about is the battle for status and supremacy between himself and  Napoleon Bonaparte.

Charles Cornwallis, the general who surrendered to the Americans at Yorktown, is now in charge of defeating the French and the rebels and pacifying the rebellious areas of Ireland.   Seen through the eyes of  a young aide who admires him greatly, Cornwallis is portrayed as a basically kindly man who can be hard when he thinks it necessary, but takes no pleasure in it.  “The color of war had long since bleached from his thoughts, and it remained for him only a duty to be scrupulously performed.”

This book is largely about the way in which the past lives on in the present, both in the world of physical objects and the world of social relationships.  Two characters who make a brief appearance are Richard Manning, proprietor of a decrepit and debt-laden castle, and his companion Ellen Kirwan:

Behind the Banking Crisis.

I want to recommend a good piece at Conservative Tree House, which I read every day.

It is this post which connects a few dots.

This is where we need to keep the BRICS -vs- WEF dynamic in mind and consider that ideologically there is a conflict between the current agenda of the ‘western financial system’ (climate change) and the traditional energy developers. This conflict has been playing out not only in the energy sector, but also the dynamic of support for Russia (an OPEC+ member) against the western sanction regime. Ultimately supporting Russia’s battle against NATO encroachments.

The war in Ukraine, which probably would not have begun if Trump was president, led to a war of economic interests. The western democracies have invested their future in “climate change,” which used to be “global warming” before the failure to warm made that slogan obsolete. Climate change has evolved into a war on energy production. The Biden regime now has even gone after gas stoves. Since I just bought one, I have an interest. Now, they seem to be going after washing machines. Ours has failed recently so I had better be quick to replace it.

The recent Credit Suisse bank crisis is complicated by the refusal of its largest shareholder, the Saudis, to help with a bail out. Why would this be ? This brings up the topic of BRICS. This is a new financial combination made up of Russia, China, Brazil, India and South Africa.

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Traute Lafrenz, Last of the White Rose

Traute Lafrenz, last surviving member of the anti-Nazi resistance movement known as the White Rose, has died.  She was a university student in Munich in 1941 when she met Hans Scholl and Christoph Probst and got involved in the group.  Her involvement became known to the Nazi authorities following the arrest of Hans and Sophie Scholl, and she was also arrested.  Unlike Probst and the Scholls, who were executed, she was sentenced to one year in prison…but following her release, she was rearrested, and was liberated by the Allies only three days before her scheduled trial, which would likely have led to her own execution.  After the war, she emigrated to the US, became a physician, got married, and had four children.  She retired to Yonges Island in South Carolina.

More about Lafrenz, and the story of the White Rose group.

My post about Alexander Schmorell, another member of the group.

There is a wonderful German movie from 1982 about the group, titled simply The White Rose.  It portrays them not as plaster saints, but rather as real, if highly exceptional, people–sometimes, as high-spirited kids.  In German with English subtitles, the film doesn’t seem to have ever made it to DVD, in the US at least, but VHS versions are often available on Ebay. Highly, highly recommended.