Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Thought for the day


Photographers hate to be photographed. Surgeons require nearly twice the amount of anesthesia ordinary patients require to undergo surgery. Journalists are the least receptive to professional scrutiny by their colleagues.

Renata Adler
Gone: the Last Days of the New Yorker


Thursday, July 26, 2018

A less bleak view of the future of the newspaper


David Warsh has been an astute observer/explainer of the news business for decades. I've learned a great deal from reading his columns (for instance, the concept of "explanation space" is his).

So this is well worth pondering:

The Future of Reliable News

The biggest and best newspapers have survived and begun to prosper again, albeit in a low-key way, precisely because advertisers pay much more to reach readers of print than for fleeting digital impressions before online readers. I don’t see proprietary numbers, and newspapers shape and guard fairly carefully what information they release. But there is more reason than ever to think that healthy print circulation is the basis of a strong digital business.
He may well be right.

Then again....

MSM: Shrinking Audience, Leftward Drift

A badge of honor, but maybe not the best business model


Wednesday, July 25, 2018

The past is prologue


Politicized intelligence and the drums of war

Musings II … The “Intelligence Community,” “Russian Interference,” and Due Diligence
If even half of this post by Amb. Jack Matlock is true, it is a severe indictment of Clapper, Brennan and Comey.

In fact, the report was prepared by a group of analysts from the three agencies pre-selected by their directors, with the selection process generally overseen by James Clapper, then Director of National Intelligence (DNI). Clapper told the Senate in testimony May 8, 2017, that it was prepared by “two dozen or so analysts—hand-picked, seasoned experts from each of the contributing agencies.” If you can hand-pick the analysts, you can hand-pick the conclusions. The analysts selected would have understood what Director Clapper wanted since he made no secret of his views. Why would they endanger their careers by not delivering?

What should have struck any congressperson or reporter was that the procedure Clapper followed was the same as that used in 2003 to produce the report falsely claiming that Saddam Hussein had retained stocks of weapons of mass destruction. That should be worrisome enough to inspire questions, but that is not the only anomaly.
He pulls no punches in his conclusion:

Prominent American journalists and politicians seized upon this shabby, politically motivated, report as proof of “Russian interference” in the U.S. election without even the pretense of due diligence. They have objectively acted as co-conspirators in an effort to block any improvement in relations with Russia, even though cooperation with Russia to deal with common dangers is vital to both countries.
RTWT


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Important



A little background from the author:

News Values

A vitally important piece of the history of US/Russian relations is just being memory-holed. I hope many people read this book.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

Respected editor (NY Times alum) both defends and condemns doxxing


Is she too stupid to understand simple words and concepts?

Does she really think she lives in a quasi-feudal system where her class has special privileges?

Or is she a thorough-going SJW who thinks impartial rules need to be replaced with Lenin's "Who-whom"?

Yes, the HuffPo is a sleazy left-wing click-bait site. But:

1. It is a Popular click-bait site and it is not treated as sleazy by the MSM guild.

2. It's editor-in-chief is a former reporter and editor at the New York Times. Which may tell us something about the ethics/ideology of the Times.

3. It is owned by Verizon. It is not a fly-by-night operation.

Monday, June 04, 2018

The Brooks-Sailer boundary


How the Deciders decide what you should read:

This explains why David Brooks writes for the New York Times and Steve Sailer does not

William Rusher to William F. Buckley:

I recently read somewhere a little homily to the effect that if a person makes us think we're thinking, we love him; but if he he makes us think, we hate him. Take your choice-- and then make up your mind to take the consequences.

Why the Times editors like David Brooks:

In 2003, Brooks got a call from New York Times editorial-page editor Gail Collins inviting him to lunch. Collins was looking for a conservative to replace outgoing columnist William Safire, but one who understood how liberals think. “I was looking for the kind of conservative writer that wouldn’t make our readers shriek and throw the paper out the window,” says Collins. “He was perfect.”

Thursday, May 24, 2018

More Tom Wolfe


This is from the commencement address at Boston University he delivered in 2000.

It has one of the best dissections of modern intellectuals you will ever read:

It's the fact that we live in an age in which ideas, important ideas, are worn like articles of fashion - and for precisely the same reason articles of fashion are worn, which is to make the wearer look better and to feel à la mode.

Now, we must be careful to make a distinction between the intellectual and the person of intellectual achievement. The two are very very different animals. There are people of intellectual achievement, who increase the sum of human knowledge, the powers of human insight, and analysis. And then there are the intellectuals. An intellectual is a person knowledgeable in one field who speaks out only in others.

If you become indignant, this elevates you to the plane of "intellectual." No mental activity is required. It is a rule, to which there has never been an exception, that when an actor or a television performer rises up to the microphone at one of these awards ceremonies and expresses moral indignation over something, he illustrates Marshall McLuhan's dictum that "moral indignation is a standard strategy for endowing the idiot with dignity."
I also liked this:

This university has been a shining lighthouse of independent thought and of liberal democracy in the classical meaning of "liberal" as John Silber has so wonderfully defined it over the years. I choose the image of a lighthouse very carefully, John and Jon, because lighthouses are built to stand alone and to bear the brunt of the storm, no matter what that storm may be.
We cannot all be geniuses like Tom Wolfe. But we can strive to be lighthouses.

Related:

Tom Wolfe, RIP

What a difference a year makes

The mark of a great editor

Sauce/Goose/Gander

Virginia Woolf: Nietzsche on the fainting couch


Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Kaus-Reynolds Paradox


Instapundit had a good question after the Parkland school shooting:

Looking for 'solutions' to mass killings? Start with punishing failure.

Law enforcement keeps failing, and people keep dying. Where are the consequences? Where is the accountability?

And yet these repeated failures among others keep getting swept under the rug as we look for “solutions” to the problem of violence.
“Accountability” for government died in the fires of Waco.

Mickey Kaus was really on point on this at the time.

Am I alone in thinking there's something perverse, even a bit obscene about the current lionization of Attorney General Janet Reno?

She made a disastrous decision that resulted in the loss of more than 70 lives. Then she accepted ''responsibility.'' In a bizarre bit of political alchemy, this somehow protected her from suffering any of the consequences that normally attend disastrously handled responsibilities. Far from restoring accountability, Reno seems to have hit on the formula for avoiding it. Make a dreadful mistake? Go immediately on "Nightline." Say the buck stops with you. Recount in moving human terms the agony of your decision. And watch your polls rise. Truman plus Donahue equals Absolution.
Over and over we see the Kaus-Reynolds paradox play out:

1. A government agency fails.

2. When it finally ‘fesses up, the failure is immediately consigned to the memory hole.

3. The consequences of its failure are then used as a justification for giving that agency more power over ordinary citizens who had nothing to do with the failed policies and botched operations.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Wargames that really mattered


Good article article on the role wargaming played in the Royal Navy's anti-Uboat campaign.

Wargaming the Atlantic War (.pdf)
After Hitler lost the Battle of Britain, the Atlantic Campaign was his only real hope to force Great Britain out of the war.

The only thing that ever really frightened me during the war was the U-boat peril.... Our lifeline, even across the broad oceans and especially in the entrances to the island was endangered. I was even more anxious about this battle than I had been about the glorious air fight called the Battle of Britain....

So we poised and pondered together on this problem. It did not take the form of flaring battles and glittering achievements. It manifested itself through statistics, diagrams, and curves unknown to the nation, incomprehensible to the public.
Winston Churchill,
Their Finest Hour
The Royal Navy did a remarkable job exploiting wargaming in this case. The combined games and after action reports from combat to solve problems and improved doctrine and tactics while the campaign was raging.

I also had no idea that the Women's Reserve Naval Service played such a critical role.