Thursday, December 13, 2018

The continuing appeal of the hive mind


The mindset of the men who presume the right to rule over us.

This is from the always informative Economic Principals

A Worldly Philosopher (or Two) at 100

Asimov is said to have written or edited 500 books. The best-known among them are science fiction. The ones that had the greatest influence on some young economists have been collected as the Foundation trilogy, an ingenious space opera on whose large canvas George Lucas’s Star Wars films are partly based. Asimov’s novels turn on applications of psychohistory, a rigorous social science that has emerged in the distant future, to reverse an impending slow descent into barbarism of an immense galactic empire.

Hal Varian. Google’s chief economists, relates the effect of Asimov’s vision of philosophical history on him, at 14. “It was about a future where social science had become an exact science, and you could mathematically model human behavior. When I got to MIT, I realized that mathematically modeling human behavior was called economics. It shaped my whole life.”

Or see Paul Krugman’s 2012 essay in The Guardian: “There are certain novels that can shape a teenage boy’s life. For some, it’s Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged; for others it’s Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings…. But for me, of course, it was neither. My Book – the one that has stayed with me for four-and-a-half decades – is Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Trilogy, written when Asimov was barely out of his teens himself. I didn’t grow up wanting to be a square-jawed individualist or join a heroic quest; I grew up wanting to be Hari Seldon, using my understanding of the mathematics of human behavior to save civilization.”
Related:

The birth of the hive mind

Sometimes it seems that all worthwhile social commentary is really just elaborations on G. K. Chesterton

The Hive mind revisited


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Sometimes bureaucratic failures have a body count


Air Force had 4 chances to stop Texas church shooter from buying guns, missed each one: IG report
Just like Nidal Hasan and Ft. Hood.

Before that there was Dean Melberg and the Fairchild AFB murders.

The military policeman who ended the shooting has written an informative book on the murders, the killer, and the aftermath.

He discussed the book and the incident on this podcast. Highly recommended.

In the wake of the Parkland shooting, many defended the police non-response by claiming that no one armed with just a pistol could stop a mass killer who was armed with a semi-automatic rifle. At Fairchild AFB, SSgt. Andy Brown did just that. At a range of seventy yards he fired four shots, hit Melberg with two of them. One was a head shot that ended the fight.

There are a bunch of people who are alive today because SSgt. Brown was the man on the scene on 20 June 1994.

In a healthy media culture Brown would be as famous as David Hogg.

Exit question: why did the command failures at Fairchild get ignored while those at Tailhook were front page news for years and years?

Is it for the same reason that the Parkland and Charleston church shootings have received 100 times the attention given to Sutherland Springs church murders?



Tuesday, December 11, 2018

An Attorney-General walks into a jail - in handcuffs


A complete crap-show and the media is in the middle of it.

The Backstory: How Kathleen Kane became the 'architect of her own ruin'
This podcast is informative on multiple levels:

Porn, leaks and petty politics
Kane went from a dark horse in the 2012 Democratic primary to rising star in the party (she drew more votes than Barack Obama in the 2012 general election) to star of a reality version of "Orange is the New Black." All this in less than six years.

To make everything even more twisted, the prime agent of her downfall was a fellow democrat-the DA in Philadelphia - who is himself now in jail for corruption while in office.

Until her indictment, the she waged a vendetta against critics and former aides in the press thanks to journalists who were willing to use unnamed sources in frontpage articles.

The Clinton's make an appearance in the story but not in the Narrative

Kane owed her rapid rise to her status as a Friend of Bill and former campaign worker for Hilary. Bill Clinton came to campaign for her in 2012 and most observers credit that with boosting her to the top of a crowded primary field.

The Clinton-connection has been memory-holed. Inconvenient to the various Narratives in play in this the Current Year.

The Penn State triangulation

In her campaign, Kane pulled off a neat trick of triangulation worthy of the Clintons.

In 2012 the Jerry Sandusky scandal and the Penn State's connection to it was an all-consuming story here in the commonwealth. Her predecessor as AG, Tom Corbett, had overseen the investigation that brought the scandal to light. Corbett was the sitting governor and a Republican.

By carefully tailoring her message, Kane managed to appeal to two completely separate groups of voters. To PSU alums and supporters of Joe Paterno she seemed to suggest that Corbett had engaged in a vendetta against the university and the legendary coach. To the haters of Penn State and the hard left, she suggested that Corbett had been slow to move against Sandusky because he was a Republican, and, hence un-Woke and corrupt.

It was a neat trick. Kane, for all her failings and weakneses, was a adept campaigner

Why "media ethics" is a joke - "We don't care about the felony or abuse of power if it helps us sell newspapers."

As mentioned, Kane's vendettas were played out on the pages of the newspapers. She is in jail today because she leaked grand jury testimony to a Philadelphia paper in an attempt to discredit a critic.

NB: That paper is still proud of the fact that they never revealed their source EVEN WHEN IT WAS CLEAR THAT THAT SOURCE WAS PROBABLY WORKING ON BEHALF OF THE COMMONWEALTH'S ATTORNEY GENERAL AND WAS BREAKING THE LAW.

In short, to get the story they agreed to ignore the crimes that put Kane in a jail cell.

How many other felonies are covered-up so journalists can make money and win prizes?

As noted here many moons ago:

A reliable and trustworthy source is someone willing to break trust with his or her colleagues and betray the confidences of their friends.
Or as army intelligence officer Col. Stuart A. Herrington wrote:

In the unique world occupied by our media colleagues, trusted government civil servants who betray sensitive information are First Amendment heroes.
Related:

Why 'investigative journalism' is problematic

Feet of clay and heads of stone


Saturday, December 08, 2018

Religion and the Nazis


This sounds like an interesting and important book.

NEW AGE AND THE NAZIS

If the Nazis did not carry out their crimes as integral and predictable expressions of Western Civilization and Christian theology, what did ground them? What were their guiding beliefs and principles? The extent to which Nazism was informed by neo-paganism is made clear in Eric Kurlander's 2017 book Hitler's Monsters: A Supernatural History of the Third Reich, published by Yale University Press. Hitler's Monsters is a dense, ambitious, scholarly tome. There are over one hundred pages of footnotes and bibliography. Kurlander acknowledges that previous authors have documented Nazism's involvement with New Age ideas and practices, and he draws on these authors' work. Kurlander also acknowledges that without the perfect storm of historical circumstances exploited by Hitler, including Germany's defeat in WW I, the punitive Versailles Treaty, and the Depression, Nazism probably never would have risen to power. And Kurlander notes that New Age beliefs don't cause a believer to become a Nazi. But Kurlander is unafraid to state the importance of his research. "No mass political movement drew as consciously or consistently as the Nazis on … occultism and … pagan, New Age, and Eastern religions, folklore, mythology … Without understanding this relationship between Nazism and the supernatural, one cannot fully understand the history of the Third Reich … Hitler's Monsters is the first book to address this rich, fascinating, often extraordinary relationship from the party's origins to the end of the Second World War … the Third Reich would have been highly improbable without a widespread penchant for supernatural thinking."
You can get a sense of what the Nazis believed by walking through any given New Age store. On such a visit, you will encounter astrology, reincarnation, hypnotism, Chinese massage, and yoga how-to books, next to homeopathic flower "cures," vegetarian recipes, and magical gardening manuals advising you to harvest your crops in tune with the movement of celestial bodies. There will be alternative histories of the universe and planet Earth, including books about the lost city of Atlantis. For teens, there will be lurid witch, vampire and werewolf novels.
****
Top Nazis were not only not believing Christians, they were anti-Christian and determined to extirpate Christianity from their Reich. As Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach said, "the destruction of Christianity was explicitly recognized as a purpose of the National Socialist movement." Alfred Rosenberg dreamed of a day when "Nordic sagas and fairy tales will take the place of the Old Testament stories of pimps and cattle dealers." Nazism's anti-Christian, pagan worldview was obvious to contemporaries. Christopher Dawson, "the greatest English-speaking Catholic historian of the twentieth century," warned in 1935 that Nazism could "develop a mythology and ethic" that may "take the place of Christian theology and Christian ethics." On January 13, 2002, Joe Sharkey, writing in The New York Times, reported on then-recently released documents outlining "How Hitler's Forces Planned to Destroy German Christianity."


Friday, December 07, 2018

Pearl Harbor


This book demolishes many of the myths that have grown up around the attack.

You can listen to the "fireside chat" FDR gave to the nation on 9 December 1941 (here).

Two articles that examine the nature and causes of the intelligence failure:

How the Japanese Did it

Pearl Harbor's Overlooked Answer



Thursday, December 06, 2018

The real Bletchley Park


Bletchley Park: Britain's wartime intelligence factory

It certainly wasn't the case that Turing alone cracked Enigma, any more than there was a single Enigma to be cracked.

And in any case, breaking an Enigma 'user group' was only the first stage. It enabled messages to be read, but what did the messages mean? The men and women of Bletchley Park could only find out by painstakingly synthesising and analysing thousands of decoded messages. This in turn meant that they had to develop a complex data management operation, mainly based on cross-referenced card indexes that were sometimes filed in shoeboxes. It also demanded that they created an intelligence assessment function, so that they could produce something useable to the Allies' military commanders.
Previously in these pages

Winston Churchill and the Secret World

Understanding intelligence

Britian's secret weapon in the war against Hitler

Intelligence Stovepipes: They're a feature, not a bug

You can't expect much history in "historical dramas" when SJWs are in charge
Also good to see a good man get the credit he is due:

It was the task of handling huge volumes of Enigma decrypts so that solid military intelligence could be produced that made Gordon Welchman a key figure at Bletchley Park. A Cambridge mathematician, like his more famous colleague Alan Turing, Welchman devised the system that was to process thousands of messages each day - from interception through to decryption, translation and analysis.


Tuesday, December 04, 2018

The con that destroyed the quality of work life for millions


"Mr. Pym is a man of rigid morality - except, of course, as regards his professions, whose essence is to tell plausible lies for money ."
Dorothy L. Sayers, Murder Must Advertise
Former CEO of Steelcase admits that the 'open office' hype was just a way for bean counters to save money. From the Freakonomics podcast:

DUBNER: So Steelcase was regarded as a great company to work for, which, I'm guessing, you had a little something to do with. And you were regarded as - the Wall Street Journal called you,"a pioneer of the open office," and it really did change the way that we began to think about how an office should look and feel and work. So first of all, persuade me that the notion of the open office wasn't just a commercial idea to encourage every company in America and the world to redo their offices so that you could sell more furniture. And there's nothing wrong with that.

HACKETT: No, no, no. I'm going to endorse that notion, but I was not the father of it. By the time I came in as C.E.O. in the late 80's, Herman Miller, Inc. was really the early purveyor of the open office, and it came from Germany. And the real movement really started here in New York. As the rents went up, it allowed you to get more density. That was really the underlying thing.

If I want to take credit for a movement, it was shifting the amount of space that you actually devoted to cubicles, and moving that to teams. So I call that "The shift between I and we." But to make team spaces really cool and attractive, we had to do some unique things that weren't being done.
Once again, the corollary to Conquest's First Law holds true:

In a business context Conquest's Law suggests that those who promote the Next New Thing-- be they consultants, IT salesmen, journalists, or would-be gurus-- fall into one of two categories:

1. Ignorant, naive amateurs whose knowledge of the subject is superficial but whose enthusiasm is genuine.

2. Cynical hucksters who know better but hope their audience does not.
Related:

Thinking about thinking, creativity and, innovation


Monday, December 03, 2018

This is why Charles C. W. Cooke is the best thing about National Review


From his review of Max Boot's latest book:

Flight from the Deplorables

[B]y the end of his book, it has become painfully clear that Boot has sacrificed very little by walking away from the GOP. As he was before his great awakening, Boot remains a non-religious, pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, socially liberal, pro–New Deal “Eisenhower Republican” who considers that climate change requires harsh government action; hopes for strict gun control, including a ban on “assault weapons”; remains warm toward markets and trade; and favors an aggressive and interventionist foreign policy. Which . . . well, makes him precisely the sort of the person who would have been able to weather a Hillary Clinton presidency without too much fear — or, given her more hawkish instincts and views on abortion, guns, religious liberty, and welfare spending, would have arguably preferred it.
That Max Boot is a mendacious, mediocre hack is one thing -- and a pretty small thing at that.

The bigger questions-- the far more interesting and important question-- is how did he ever get inside Conservative, Inc. in the first place? Why would anyone running a "conservative" publication hire such a slippery, pedestrian, not very conservative polemicist to write for them?

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Some people never learn


The People's Temple is not the only murderous cult that earned praise from California Gov. Jerry Brown. When he ran for Mayor of Oakland, he also ozied up to Yusef Bey and the Your Black Muslim Bakery.

The bakery was an off-shoot of the Nation of Islam which mixed murder with child-rape. While praised as a model for economic self-help, it relied on funding from California's social welfare system and various forms of fraud. Like the People's Temple, the majority of the victims were poor African-Americans.

Brown was not alone in his support for the YBMB and the Bey family. Ron Dellums -- an extremely left-wing Congressman who became mayor of Oakland after Brown -- was another. So was Dellums's successor and former aid Rep. Barbara Lee.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Myth-busting


Daniel Flynn is doing good work

Mythology As History

The troubled man who murdered Harvey Milk and George Moscone killed them over a petty grievance, not anti-gay bigotry.
Quite similar to the murder of Matthew Shepard and the false narrative that took hold

Sadly, I doubt that Flynn's work will make a dent on the mythology. When the MSM finds a useful Narrative the facts are unimportant.

Monday, November 26, 2018

' . . . chance favors only the prepared mind.'


The LAPD set out to catch one serial killer, and inadvertently caught a different one.

How LAPD's "Closers" Nabbed the Westside Rapist

The police were using a DNA dragnet to find the Grim Sleeper. In so doing, they caught John Floyd Thomas aka The Westside Rapist.

Theories crumble, but good observations never fade.
Harlow Shapley (astronomer)
The big break in the case came because a detective took special care to collect and preserve trace evidence in case forensic science ever began using DNA to solve crimes. He did this long before such evidence had ever been used in court.

Then a crucial coincidence occurred, the kind of thing that would give Harry Bosch pause: It was 1976, and Manchester saw a magazine article about the science of DNA technology. “It was something pretty new,” Manchester says today. In fact, most cops then relied on crime-scene analysis as rudimentary as grade-school math: spraying Luminol to locate fingerprints, and identifying blood types and groups.

Influenced by the fascinating magazine piece, Manchester did something odd for those times: He insisted that the Los Angeles County autopsy technicians save as much human detritus and trace evidence found at the McKeown crime scene as possible. His unusual request would prove instrumental in solving the dust-gathering case, retrieved from a police evidence shelf by Bengtson and his partner Vivian Flores three decades later.
This is another serial killer who does not fit the popular image. Time and again on TV and in movies we’ve seen a cop or a profiler harangue their boss or other authority figure:

This guy is out there. He’s killed before. He will kill again, and he will keep on killing until somebody stops him.

The cinematic predator either won’t stop because he is arrogant or he can’t stop because he has an overwhelming compulsion to kill. An orgy of violence builds until the brave and brilliant hero (or heroine) finally brings the killer to justice.
Yet, in the last decade we’ve seen something completely different. Killers like the Grim Sleeper, BTK, or the Golden State Killer all have gone on long hiatuses or stopped killing completely.