Monday, March 19, 2018

Strategy and management

A brief article on a subject dear to my heart:

Two Worlds of Strategy
There are two worlds of strategy and most people are only aware of one. There is the world of corporate strategy articulated and taught in places like Harvard Business School. There is the world of military strategy articulated and taught in the various service war colleges. These two worlds never interact in any meaningful or sustained manner.
One of the primary reasons why so many people are unfamiliar with both worlds of strategy is that intellectual leaders of both worlds studiously ignore each other. Scholars who live in the mainstream of the field of management ignore military strategy. To illustrate this assertion, all one has to do is look at one year’s worth of Academy of Management Review, one of the most prominent management journals. In 2006, for example, Academy published fifty-nine different articles on a broad variety of management topics and these articles cumulatively contained 5,288 citations that were derived from a wide range of academic fields. .... What is interesting in this case is that not one single citation of more than five thousand citations derived from the field of military strategy.
I've tackled this topic a few times.....

Strategic problems and the problem with strategy

Waiting for our Clausewitz

Clausewitz (II)

The Gawker story and our decadent media

This edition of the Federalist Radio Hour is a revelation. I can't wait to read the author's book.

Unraveling The Insane Story Of Gawker, Hulk Hogan, And Peter Thiel: Author Ryan Holiday examines the nearly unbelievable conspiracy of how Hulk Hogan and few secret individuals were able to dismantle the infamous Gawker.
Also learned something newsworthy while listening:

The lawyer who got the hush money for Stormy Daniels also tried to shake down Hulk Hogan.


Just the Daniels camp is using CNN right now against Trump.

More here:

The Insane Backstory Behind The Lawyer Who Shook Down Donald Trump (and Hulk Hogan)
This would be a great topic for Reliable Sources. But I doubt we will ever see that.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Polarization, confirmation bias, and media malpractice

The press claims to hate it, so why are they making it worse?

This article makes a key point about modern marketing which has serious implications for political debate and the health of the republic.

How The Principle Of Triage Can Benefit Your Brand

The second group, can be broadly described as rejecters of the brand. Even heavy spend against this group will have minimal effect, because of the problem of confirmation bias.

This bias, first described in 1954 by the psychologists Albert Hastorf and Hadley Cantril, suggests that we interpret messages through a lens of our existing feelings. So if we dislike a brand, any message will be interpreted negatively, through a lens of cynicism.

Advertising, as a relatively weak force, will struggle to over-turn these misconceptions.
An interesting experiment which shows how this plays out in voters’s minds:

Along with Jenny Ridell I ran an experiment in the UK to understand if the bias was still as powerful today. We surveyed 1,004 nationally representative voters about their views on raising sales tax by a penny to fund 10,000 extra nurses.

The results were then split by political affiliation. The twist was that half the respondents were told it was a Conservative policy and half Labour.

When Labour supporters thought the policy came from Labour there was strong support: 14 percent completely agreed. However, support plummeted to 3 percent when it was described as a Conservative policy.

Similarly, among Tories the policy was four times more popular when it was positioned as coming from their party.

The results show that voters interpret policies through a lens of their feelings for the party. If they dislike a party they’ll interpret any policy through a negative filter.

As can be seen from the scale of the effect this is not an insignificant factor: policy is far less influential than existing party affiliation.
So it appears that once an issue is presented within a red/blue, left/right framework, people become locked into their positions and less susceptible to persuasion.

See additional discussion here:

Changing Minds
This is one more reason why CNN’s “Town Hall” in the wake of the Parkland school shooting was a terrible idea. We had not learned many of the highly relevant facts. CNN made little attempt to provide background information. The ideological framework (“gun grabber” vs. “gun nuts”) ensured that many, if not most, viewers would discount any new information they encountered.

As noted previously, the business model of cable news and internet publishing is a big driver of this High Heat/Low Light “journalism”.

Media's Shifting Business Model
While this sort of programming is good for ratings and cash flow, it seems hazardous to the health of the nation. It increases polarization while at the same time it limits our ability and willingness to understand the complexity of the issues that confront us.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Rev. Billy Graham, RIP

A bit of history from David Chappell., A Stone of Hope: Prophetic Religion and the Death of Jim Crow

There was more than an abstract parallel between the civil right movement and revivalism. In fact, there was a direct relationship between King and the famous revival leader who was his contemporary, Billy Graham. King and his chief of staff, Wyatt Tee Walker, sought advice from Graham and Graham's staff of tactical experts on how to organize large meetings and build publicity. King appeared onstage in one of Graham's 'crusades' in New York City in August 1957. The two men even traveled to Rio de Janiero together to attend the World Baptist Alliance conference in 1960. Graham, whose audiences were not segregated, often preached against racism
In 1965, in Montgomery Alabama he preached to as many as 18,000 people each night. As Chappell notes, despite George Wallace and Jim Crow laws, he refused to segregate his audiences.

Monday, February 19, 2018

The bizarro world inside the aging leftist brain

Interesting video of a fairly recent academic conference on the Venona code-breaking project.

The Q&A session is illuminating. The questions occilate between two poles:

1. "The Russians meddled in the election."

2. "The FBI framed the Rosenbergs!"
"Julius did nothing wrong."

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Strategic problems and the problem with strategy

This is very good -- succinct and on-point:

Why Strategies Disappointand How to Fix Them

Indeed, it is hard to criticize the concept of strategic planning. That is, of course, until one actually reads what is ultimately produced.
Every organization would benefit if, at the beginning of their strategic planning process, all participants took these two ideas to heart:

A. strategies disappoint because they fail to be succinct, sharp, and substantive.

B. Good strategies also have an edge to them. They should make some people unhappy; when strategies prioritize resources, not everyone comes out a winner.
But, to be honest, many scholars have noted the latter problem in strategy-making. zbigniew Brzezinski wrote in 1969 that large bureaucracies do not have strategiesthey have shopping lists. So it is not as if we did not already know this.

C. [Strategies] fail because leaders are unwilling to make difficult decisionsto focus on one threat as opposed to another, prioritize resources accordingly, and then explain their decisions publiclyat risk of being wrong.

D. The real problem is not process; it is the aversion to making decisive and perhaps irrevocable choices.
Or, to quote Clausewitz:

Courage is of two kinds: courage in the face of personal danger, and courage to accept responsibility, either before the tribunal of some outside power or before the court of one's own conscience.

If we pursue the demands that war makes on those who practice it, we come to the region dominated by the powers of the intellect. War is the realm of uncertainty; three quarters of the factors on which action in war is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty. A sensitive and discriminating judgment is called for; a skilled intelligence to scent out the truth.

If the mind is to emerge unscathed from this relentless struggle with the unforeseen, two qualities are indispensable: first, an intellect that, even in the darkest hour, retains some glimmerings of the inner light that leads to truth; and second, the courage to follow the faint light wherever it may lead. The first of these qualities is described by the French term coup d'oeil; the second is determination.
With this in mind we can see that one of the real causes of strategic failure lies in the way we study and teach strategy. In the real world victory is not won by the side with the most elegant strategic concept or the most complex multi-dimensional plan. Rather, winning is more often a matter of avoiding distraction and acting decisively.

As Patton put it:

A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.
Gen. George Marshall often admonished his subordinates “Don’t fight the problem, decide it.”

The words he chose are critical. He did not say “solve it.” To solve a problem presupposes “one right answer” or “one best solution”. The search for that one right answer can easily lead to delay and paralysis by analysis.

In the the real world, there sometimes are no good solutions. Only bad, awful, and less bad.

Marshall understood that strategic decisions marked the beginning, not the end of the process. Only after the critical decisions were made could the rest of the organization get on with the vital work of implementation. In almost no case can implementation happen immediately. Usually resources have to be gathered and deployed, men and women trained, etc. etc.

The British Chiefs, especially Sir Alan Brooke, never could seem to understand why the Americans had to have commitments well in advance. They accused us of being rigid and inflexible, not realizing the terrific job of procurement, shipbuilding, troop training and supply necessary to place a million and a half troops in England, with armor, tanks and troop-lift, ready to invade the Continent.
S. E. Morison, Strategy and Compromise


Waiting for our Clausewitz

Clausewitz (II)

Saturday, February 03, 2018

If nothing else, the Nunes memo shows that Sir John Keegan was a wise man

More reporters and editors should follow his example.

As readers, we should probably stop respecting reporters with "great contacts" in the intelligence world. Might be more realistic to view said reporters as arrogant dupes who are being used by the professionals.
As defence correspondent, then defence editor of The Daily Telegraph, i decided that entanglement with intelligence organisations was unwise, having concluded, by that stage of my life, through reading, conversation and a little personal observation, that anyone who mingled in the intelligence world, in the belief that he could make use of contacts thus made, would more probably be made use of, to his disadvantage. I continue to believe that to be the case

Friday, February 02, 2018

Something Trump understands that most of his GOP critics do not

To conclude on a positive note, remember that to succeed in strategy you do not have to be distinguished or even particularly competent. All that is required is performing well enough to beat an enemy. You do not have to win elegantly; you just have to win.
Colin S. Gray, Why Strategy is Difficult"

Monday, January 29, 2018

This is still good advice

There is no panacea for peace that can be written out in a formula like a doctor’s prescription. But one can set down a series of practical points—elementary principles drawn from the sum of human experience in all times. Study war and learn from its history. Keep strong, if possible. In any case, keep cool. Have unlimited patience. Never corner an opponent and always assist him to save his face. Put yourself in his shoes—so as to see things through his eyes. Avoid self-righteousness like the devil—nothing is so self-blinding. Cure yourself of two commonly fatal delusions—the idea of victory and the idea that war cannot be limited
B H Liddell-Hart, Deterent or Defense (1960)

The Thucydides trap and the Korean conundrum

Sad but true

Friday, January 26, 2018

When justice loses to Social Justice

The Netflix series “The Keepers” has brought attention to the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik. In all the commentary on the series and the case I’ve not seen any mention of one particularly salient fact: Sister Cathy’s murder is less likely to be solved because it occurred in Maryland.

In the Free State the politicians surrendered to the SJWs and rejected useful crime solving tools.

Familial DNA testing has already led to the capture of killers who have long eluded justice. It was instrumental in identifying Lonnie Franklin, Jr. as the Grim Sleeper serial killer in Los Angeles.

Maryland has made it illegal for police to use it.


Maryland and the District of Columbia are the only United States jurisdictions that have banned the use of familial DNA searches in investigations and prosecutions.5 Maryland was the first jurisdiction to pass the ban in 2008, followed by the District of Columbia. Conversely, California, New York, Colorado, Florida, and Virginia have adopted laws to allow limited use of familial DNA investigations. Many other states allow familial searches without legislative imprimatur.

So why has Maryland outlawed the use of familial DNA when so many other jurisdictions are moving towards the use of familial DNA searching? Maryland's movement to ban familial DNA searches was led by Stephen B. Mercer, then in private practice and now the Chief of the Forensics Division of the Maryland Office of the Public Defender.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Don’t confuse us with the facts

A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.
Saul Bellow, To Jerusalem and Back
I’ve written before about the role respected experts played in the ritual child abuse panic of the 1980s and 1990s. (cf. “They trusted the experts") At the heart of many of these cases were “victims” who “recovered” suppressed memories with the help of therapists. These new “memories” then were recounted in court where judges and juries accepted them as conclusive evidence.

Eventually courts came to realize that recovered memories were dangerously problematic. Serious scholars destroyed what little scientific support the concept once had. Most of the convictions were overturned.

It seemed that rationality had reasserted itself.

I ran across this Weekly Standard article from 2003 which struck exactly that optimistic note:

The End of a Delusion

AT THE END of the nineteenth century, Sigmund Freud--ever anxious to present an overarching, universal explanation for mental unrest--suggested that "repressed memories" of childhood sexual abuse are a common cause of adult mental disorders.

He quickly abandoned the idea (replacing it with the concept of infantile sexuality) when he saw that it harmed rather than helped his patients. But such ideas seem to have lives of their own, and a hundred years after Freud first proposed it, the idea of repressed memories rose again in new and even gaudier clothing. Grown beyond Freud's unadorned view of domestic misconduct, it came to include beliefs that many of these sexual traumas--which the troubled patients' shocked minds had repressed--took place during Satanic rituals and experiments aboard alien spacecraft.

It is today almost impossible to understand how anyone ever believed this absurd and ridiculous notion, but it was less than a decade ago that the idea was flourishing in America. The American psychiatric and psychological establishment bears a shame that will be hard ever to wash away. Thousands of patients--thousands of sick, damaged people who had come to medical professionals for help--were destructively misdirected into trolling through their pasts in search of hidden sexual trauma. By the late 1980s, wards and clinics in university psychiatric departments, eminent hospitals, and even the National Institute of Mental Health were devoted to uncovering these repressed memories.

The craze for this psychiatric madness was never universal, and, to their credit, some theorists and practicing psychiatrists resisted the practices and ideas in what Frederick Crews aptly dubbed the "memory wars." The importance of Richard J. McNally's new book "Remembering Trauma" lies not just in the superb and definitive survey McNally makes of the history of repressed memories, but also in what the book stands for: "Remembering Trauma" is the monument built to mark the end of the memory wars. The repressed-memory diagnosis has finally been repressed.

Sadly, there are no final victories in the war between rational thought and pseudoscience. Oprah, after all, did more than anyone to promote the Recovered Memory movement and now our cultural elite want to make her president.
Or take the Netflix series “the Keepers” which was nominated for an Emmy in the Documentary category. Ostensibly about the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik in Baltimore in 1969, it devotes much of its running time to horrific stories of sexual abuse suffered by students at Keough High School. The perpetrators were an organized ring which included priests, policemen, and other powerful men in the city.

“The Keepers” wants us to believe that Sister Cathy was murdered because she was going to expose the abuse. Her murder is unsolved, of course, because the perpetrators of the abuse included powerful figures who could quash the investigation.

And at the center of the revelations are witnesses who came forward after undergoing recovered memory therapy.

The Dangerously Misleading Narrative Of "The Keepers"
Or, to put it another way, the critics and pundits lavished praise on a TV series that depends solely on pseudoscience for its grand narrative and emotional punch.
They even persist in their praise when physical evidence undercuts the narrative.

Exhumed priest’s DNA doesn’t match evidence in case of ‘Sister Cathy’ slaying from 1969
Some might wonder why the MSM showed such vigor in refuting the conspiracy theories about Comet Ping Pong and Pizzagate and yet heaped praise on a TV series that was based on similar conspiracy theories and speculation.

But remember. They are “elite” and expert so shut up and listen.

Friday, January 19, 2018

"... who controls the present controls the past."

Continuing the theme of re-writing history, Steve Sailer has a couple of good posts.

Retconning History

Jim Crow South Versus Hitler
We have a big problem in America. It is not that most of our citizens don't know much about history. It's that they think they have a deep understanding of our past based on the 2-dimensional morality plays they see in movies and on TV or (more rarely) read in novels.

The IYIs in the MSM bubble know they are smarter and better informed than the yokels in Sh!thol, Wisconsin. After all, they read Philip Roth and Watch "Man in the High Castle."


The Politics Below the History