Tuesday, October 30, 2018

A case study on organizational learning

Great interview with the author of a new book


Hone examines how the so-called New Navy of the twentieth century managed innovation and transformed doctrine in an era of rapidly changing technology, first emphasizing a centralized fleet's massed gunfire, and later the coordination of dispersed aircraft carrier task forces. He argues"the Navy's surface warfare doctrine in the first half of the twentieth century was an example of sustained and repeated innovation" and uses this evolving doctrine to examine "organizational development through the lens of complexity."
This is a subject of great, long-standing interest to this blog:

Military Schools and Business Education

Tarawa II: Learning and doing

Coping with a VUCA world

Monday, October 29, 2018

How a crude cocktail changed history

Water, water, everywhere,
Nor any drop to drink.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"
Keeping his crew hydrated and non-mutinous was no easy task for a captain in the age of sail. The water, stored in casks, quickly became evil-looking and vile-tasting. Then, there was need to carry enough alcohol to keep crew in a tolerable state of sullenness.

When Europeans began distilling alcohol, it meant ships could carry the hard stuff instead the more bulky wine or beer. The Royal Navy switched from beer to rum and then grog. The French navy swapped wine to eau-de-vie.

Turns out, this was a very big deal.

Grog, was 1 part rum mixed with 4 parts water AND LIME JUICE added for flavor. The daily ration 2.5 pints of grog versus the old ration of a gallon of beer.

And now, for the rest of the story:

The use of grog in place of beer played an unseen role during the eighteenth century in establishing British supremacy at sea. One of the main causes of death among sailors at the time was scurvy, a wasting disease that is now known to be caused by a lack of vitamin C. The best way to prevent it, discovered and forgotten many times during the eighteenth century, was to administer regular doses of lemon or lime juice. The inclusion of lemon or lime juice in grog, made compulsory in 1795, therefore reduced the incidence of scurvy dramatically. And since beer contains no vitamin C, switching from beer to grog made British crews far healthier overall. The opposite was true of their French counterparts, for whom the standard drink ration was not beer but three quarters of a liter of wine (the equivalent of a modern bottle). On long cruises, this ration was replaced by three- sixteenths of a liter of eau-de-vie. Since wine contains small amounts of vitamin C but eau-de-vie does not, the effect was to reduce the French navy's resistance to scurvy, just as the Royal Navy's resistance was increasing. The Royal Navy's unique ability to combat scurvy was said by one naval physician to have doubled its performance and contributed directly to Britain's eventual defeat of the French and Spanish fleets at Trafalgar in 1805.
Tom Standage, A History of the World in 6 Glasses

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Psychoanalysis as a pseudoscience

Frederick Crews, Follies of the Wise:

In a word, then, Freud had launched a pseudoscience-- that is, a nominally scientific enterprise that is so faulty at the core that it cannot afford to submit its hypotheses for unsparing peer review by the wider community, but must resort to provisos that forestall any possibility of refutation.. And despite some well-intentioned efforts at reform, a pseudoscience is what psychoanalysis has remained.
And this seems especially relevant today:

The potential for mass havoc from 'memory' - based accusations is thus no smaller today than it was in the seventeenth century. In fact, it is incomparably greater, thanks to the power of our sensation-seeking media to spread the illness instantaneously from one town or region to another.

Don’t confuse us with the facts

We owe Salem an apology

They trusted the experts

You can't expect much history in "historical dramas" when SJWs are in charge.

A proper old-fashioned stinker: ITV’s The Bletchley Circle – San Francisco reviewed

After just one episode, The Bletchley Circle: San Francisco (ITV, Wednesday) seems certain to stand out from the crowd. In an age when most television dramas range from the perfectly fine to the extremely good, it already looks like a proper old-fashioned stinker.

Admittedly, one of its more obvious problems is bang up-to-date: by adhering so spinelessly to the mantra of ‘women and black people good, white men bad’, the programme not only creates an overwhelmingly dreary sense of déjà vu, it also deprives itself of any possibility of genuine dramatic tension. But there are plenty of more traditional flaws too, including such classics as wooden dialogue, leaden humour and a plot of impressively po-faced preposterousness.
I watched the first two seasons of "The Bletchley Circle" and tried the third season on BritBox. I could not get past the first episode for all the reasons outlined in the article.


As their Weemsy takes them

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

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

A new book on an almost forgotten economist

Undeservedly forgotten I might add.

Great review here:

The Virtues of the Market: Wilhelm Röpke as a Cultural Economist

More than other economists Röpke was willing to engage fully with the cultural dimension (and the religious dimension about which this book is curiously silent) of liberalism and markets. This meant that he was skeptical that liberal institutions had much of a chance in the absence of bourgeois and Christian culture. An unpopular point to make also in his day and age, and one that did not sit easily with his liberal universalism, but a point hard to ignore after Western attempts to spread democracy and markets which have invariably run into serious trouble.
This makes me think that Ropke might be just the economist we need in the Age of Amazon, Google, and the SJW nomenklatura.

With sympathies for both (European) political integration and a high degree of federalism. It makes him an original critic of monopolies: they are bad not only because they harm consumers, but also because they represent an unhealthy degree of concentration in the economy, with harmful social and cultural effects. He favored the small firm, exemplified by the independent farmer and artisan. It was an economic structure which he found in Switzerland, where he lived the latter half of his life, from 1937 to his passing in 1966.
Perhaps in theory, as in practice, Switzerland is better than Chicago.

"Bureaucracy is a giant mechanism operated by pygmies"

Revisiting the 2008 Financial Crash

What Have We Learned Since Bagehot?

Ben Bernanke told an attentive Brookings Institution audience earlier this month, that, after he became chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, in 2006, “Literally one of the first things I did was to ask the staff to give me the handbook or what you do in the case of a financial crisis, and they provided me a little notebook, typed on a manual typewriter and mimeographed, about four pages in it, and it said, ‘Open the discount window.’ And that was about it…. Tim Geithner had a similar experience at the New York Fed, and so we went into one of the complicated and consequential crises in human history with very little in the way of playbook for thinking about how to address the crisis.”

Coping with a VUCA world

A catastrophic failure of imagination

What was the Fed thinking in the summer of 2008?

It's a shame that we don't have any way to prepare for dealing with crises and unexpected events.

Wargames and crisis management

“Wargaming in the Classroom”

Military Schools and Business Education

Strategy and Execution: Business and the Military

Monday, October 01, 2018

The ultimate in victim-blaming

When your movie turns the murder victims into the bad guys.

‘Lizzie’ Celebrates Murder As Feminist Empowerment

The film is designed to celebrate Borden’s 18 axe blows to her stepmother and the 10 or 11 to her father as feminist empowerment. For this to work, the film-makers follow the time-honored tradition of making the villain of the piece, her father, so detestable that any violence done to him, no matter how savage, is justified.
“Lizzie” is pitched to the politically correct crowd, with their views that murder is justified if it is committed by the oppressed. To do this, the film departs from key facts.