Saturday, December 08, 2018

Religion and the Nazis

This sounds like an interesting and important book.


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.

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


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.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

A significant but almost forgotten anniversary

Forty years ago, the world was trying to come to terms with the horrifying news out of Guyana

The People's Temple Massacre is the worst mass murder of US citizens excepting only 9-11. The anniversary passed without much press attention. A new book on Jim Jones and his cult-prison may tell us why this crime has been so effectively memory-holed.

City Journal reviewed the book:

Jim Jones, Made in San Francisco

Forty years after the Jonestown massacre, a new book chronicles the deep ties between the depraved cult leader and prominent Democratic politicians.

Flynn does a good job of laying out the social and political landscape of the Bay Area in the late seventies and situating the bizarre respect that the Jones cult received within the general fruitiness of the era. Jim Jones’s Bay Area was the same milieu that gave rise to the Zodiac killer, the lost-in-time Zebra murders, and the depredations of the Symbionese Liberation Army.
At the same time, Jim Jones’s connection to mainstream Democratic politics has been suppressed. He and the Peoples Temple, which exalted racial diversity and social justice, have been cast as harrowing examples of Christian religious extremism, though Jones preached atheism and ordered his followers to use the Bible as toilet paper. A roster of leaders who remain dominant figures in California politics today embraced Jones publically. Jerry Brown, then and now governor of the state, approvingly visited the Peoples Temple, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, who ascended to the mayoralty upon Moscone’s assassination, joined the Board of Supervisors in honoring Jones.
Then there is this gem from the "mentor" of CA senator and 2020 Presidential hopeful Kamala Harris:

Willie Brown, longtime speaker of the California state assembly, a mayor of San Francisco, and the mentor of Senator Kamala Harris, was especially lavish in his praise of Jones, calling him “a combination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Angela Davis, Albert Einstein, and Chairman Mao.”
An article by Daniel Flynn on Jim Jones and his enablers:

Jim Jones’s Tenured Apologist
A recent discussion on KQED with several People's Temple members who survived:

The Tragedy of Jonestown, 40 Years Later
Leave it to the Huffington Post to find a way to smear Trump with the deeds of demented, mass murdering leftists:

40 Years After The Jonestown Massacre, We Haven’t Learned Its Lessons
NPR tried to do the same thing but with a little more subtlety.

40 Years Later, Jonestown Offers A Lesson In Demagoguery

Friday, November 23, 2018

Thought for the season

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Tarawa-- 75 years ago

On this day in 1943 the US Marines invaded the Tarawa atoll in the Gilbert Islands. For the Marines and Navy, this was the first great battle in the Central Pacific offensive.

Col. Joseph H. Alexander:

The vast oceanic expanses of Micronesia also dictated a change in naval tactics. Most of the previous amphibious assaults in the Solomons and New Guinea had been executed against large land masses which offered penetration by surprise at undefended points. These scenarios featured relatively short distances between launch bases and target objectives, often short enough to enable a shore-to-shore landing without amphibious transports. After Guadalcanal, American commanders in the South and Southwest Pacific theaters conducted every amphibious landing fully within the protective umbrella of land-based air support.

These conditions were generally absent in the Central Pacific. Operation Galvanic, the campaign to seize the Gilberts, would feature unprecedented advances in long-range, fast carrier strike forces; large-scale, self-sustaining amphibious expeditionary units; and mobile logistic squadrons designed to sustain the momentum of those new forces. Admiral Nimitz was forming the elements of a 'sea-going blitzkrieg' that would hold tremendous significance for the outcome of the Pacific War. But much would ride on the amphibious seizure of Tarawa.
The main island, Betio, was heavily fortified. No larger than Central Park, the 4,500 defenders had constructed a dense network of pillboxes and trenches. As Alexander notes, “Yard for yard, Betio was the toughest fortified position the Marines would ever face." The Japanese commander, Rear Admiral Keiji Shibasaki announced to his men "A million men cannot take Tarawa in a hundred years"

The 2d Marines took Betio in four days.

It was no cake walk. The architect of the assault plan, Col. David Shoup, noted in his combat note book: “With God and the U.S. Navy in direct support of the 2d MarDiv there was never any doubt that we would get Betio. For several hours, however, there was considerable haggling over the exact price we were to pay for it.”

Five thousand men came ashore on the first day. By sundown they had suffered 30% casualties. One thousand Americans died and another 2,300 were wounded in three days of fighting.

Col. Joseph Alexander:

The Guadalcanal campaign had cost a comparable amount of Marine casualties over six months; Tarawa’s losses occurred in a period of 76 hours.
The American public was shocked at the high cost of taking such a small speck of land.

Shocked, but not deterred. Alexander:

Once the American public came to deal with the shock of the bodies floating in the shallows along Red Beach, the national mood became one of grim determination.
That resolution represented doom for Japan. Her war strategy was premised entirely on the idea the Americans would tire of the war and refuse to pay the price to roll back Tokyo’s conquests. This, in turn, would open the way to a negotiated settlement. Tarawa demonstrated that this premise was a pipe dream.

Later invasions in the Marshalls and Marianas benefited greatly from the lessons learned at Tarawa. At those battles, the Navy and Marines went into action with better doctrine, better weapons, and superior numbers. On Betio, they depended on guts, courage, and the initiative of enlisted men and junior officers.

Two telling sketches from Robert Leckie. The first from the day of the invasion:

In another Amtrack was a stocky corporal named John Joseph Spillane, a youngster who had a big-league throwing arm and the fielding ability which had brought Yankee and Cardinal scouts around to talk to his father. The Old Lady and Corporal Spillane went into Betio in the first wave, a load of riflemen crouching below her gunwales, a thick coat of hand-fashioned steel armor around her unlovely hull. Then she came under the sea wall and the Japanese began lobbing grenades into her.

The first came in hissing and smoking and Corporal Spillane dove for it. He trapped it and pegged it in a single, swift practiced motion. Another. Spillane picked it off in mid-air and hurled it back. There were screams. There were no more machine-gun bullets rattling against The Old Lady's sides. Two more smoking grenades end-over-ended into the amtrack. Spillane nailed both and flipped them on the sea wall. The assault troops watched him in fascination. And then the sixth one came in and Spillane again fielded and threw.

But this one exploded.

Johnny Spillane was hammered to his knees. His helmet was dented. There was shrapnel in his right side, his neck, his right hip, and there was crimson spouting from the pulp that had been his right hand.

But the assault troops had vaulted onto the beach and were scrambling for the sea wall. Though Johnny Spillane's baseball career was over, he had bought these riflemen precious time, and he was satisfied to know it as he called, 'Let's get outta here,' to his driver and the squat gray amphibian backed out into the water to take him out to the transport where the doctor would amputate his right hand at the wrist.
On 24 November, Marine Generals Holland Smith and Julian Smith toured Tarawa:

The generals Smith began to tour the island. Even Julian Smith, who had been on Betio since November 22, was stunned by what he saw. Both generals understood at last why pillboxes and blockhouses which had withstood bombs and shells had eventually fallen. Within each of them lay a half-dozen or more dead Japanese, their bodies sprawled around those of three or four Marines. Julian Smith's men had jumped inside to fight it out at muzzle range.

Many of the pillboxes were made of five sides, each ten feet long, with a pair of entrances shielded against shrapnel by buffer tiers. Each side was made of two layers of coconut logs eight inches in diameter, hooked together with clamps and railroad spikes, with sand poured between each layer. The roof was built of two similar layers of coconut logs. Over this was a double steel turret, two sheathings of quarter-inch steel rounded off to deflect shells. Over this was three feet of sand.

'By God!' Howlin' Mad exclaimed. 'The Germans never built anything like this in France. No wonder these bastards were sitting back here laughing at us. They never dreamed the marines could take this island, and they were laughing at what would happen to us when we tried it'. Howlin' Mad shook his head in disbelief. 'How did they do it, Julian?', he began, and then, below and above the sea wall he found his answer.

Below it as many as 300 American bodies floated on that abundant tide. Above it, leaning against it in death, was the body of a young Marine. His right arm was still flung across the top of the sea wall. A few inches from his fingers stood a little blue-and-white flag. It was a beach marker. It told succeeding waves where they should land. The Marine had planted it there with his life, and now it spoke such eloquent reply to that question of a moment ago that both generals turned away from it in tears.

'Julian,' Howlin' Mad Smith went on in soft amendment-- 'how can such men be defeated?'

The week after the landing Time magazine pronounced its verdict on the battle. The sentiment was correct but not in the way Time intended:

Last week some 2,000 or 3,000 United States Marines, most of them now dead or wounded, gave the nation a name to stand beside those of Concord Bridge, the Bon Homme Richard, the Alamo, Little Big Horn and Belleau Wood. The name was “Tarawa.”
Tarawa deserves to be remembered with those other battles. The thing is, America no longer cares much about remembering the heroes who came before us.


'We Were Going to Win . . . or Die There'

Tarawa II: Learning and doing