Monday, August 08, 2022

You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to recognize perverse incentives

This scheme was Big Pharma’s holy grail. Vaccines are one of the rare commercial products that multiply profits by failing. Each new booster doubles the revenues from the initial jab.

The Real Anthony Fauci
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

The fine line

The world would be a poorer place without those who blazed against the abuses and tyrannies of sin. But too often this is made an excuse for petulant and self-centered irritation.

William Barclay
Letters of James and Peter

Thursday, July 14, 2022

How technology makes us stupid and angry

Weak Men Are Superweapons

The straw man is a terrible argument nobody really holds, which was only invented so your side had something easy to defeat. The weak man is a terrible argument that only a few unrepresentative people hold, which was only brought to prominence so your side had something easy to defeat.
From the dak ages of this blog:

In the bad old days, you had to build your own strawmen when arguing politics. Now, thanks to the wonders of the Internet, you can just pick one off the cyber-shelf.

Thursday, June 30, 2022

How disasters become catastrophes: Seeds of destruction

When analyzing the grotesque failures of our COVID response, I think it is useful to keep this quote from Sir Michael Howard in mind:

This is an aspect of military science which needs to be studied above all others in the Armed Forces: the capacity to adapt oneself to the utterly unpredictable, the entirely unknown. I am tempted indeed to declare that whatever doctrine the Armed Forces are working on now, they have got it wrong. I am tempted also to declare that it does not matter that they have got it wrong. What does matter is their capacity to get it right quickly when the moment arrives.

Michael Howard, "Military Science in the Age of Peace"
One can forgive early mistakes when confronting a novel threat. What matters is how quickly an organization can recognize its mistakes and make corrections. This is where Fauci and Co. failed and failed grievously. As the mistakes piled up, they insisted that they had all the answers and were well nigh infallible.

This is a recipe for catatrophe.

In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.

Eric Hoffer, Reflections on the Human Condition
Americans used to be good at learning on the fly when the balloon went up:

Despite the shock of Pearl Harbor, which crippled the battleship fleet and rendered the existing warplans obsolete, the Navy moved swiftly and with strategic focus.
We fumbled and we failed but we learned:

Bernard Lewis:

One was that they were unteachable. When America entered the war, we in Britian had been at war for more than two years. We had made many mistakes, and had learned something from them We tried to pass these lessons on to our new allies and save them from paying again the price that we had paid in blood and toil. But they wouldn't listen -- their ways were not our ways, and they would do things their way, not ours. And so they went ahead and made mistakes -- some repeating ours, some new and original. What was really new and original -- and this is my second point lastiing impression -- was the speed with which they recognized these mistakes, and devised and applied the means to correct them. This was beyond anything in my experience.
Our most successful organizations consciously tried to learn from failure:

Every action-report included a section of analysis and recommendations, and those nuggets of hard-won knowledge were absorbed into future command decisions, doctrine, planning, and training throughout the service.

Ian Toll, Pacific Crucible
We also understood the need to clear the decks by removing failed or compromised leaders.

We did none of these things with COVID.

Kaus-Reynolds with a vengence*
We are paying a high price for these failures. When the general public understands that it did not have to be this way, the fallout may be earth-shattering.


When do disasters become catastrophes?

Why bureaucracies fail (II): Can experts admit to mistakes?

Why bureaucracies fail: Politics and enforced solidarity

The hubris of the learned and the perils of technocracy

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Watergate: A legend turns 50

50 Years Later, the Motive Behind Watergate Remains Clouded

Despite the abundance of transcripts, FBI reports, and memoirs from those involved, we still know more about the cover-up than we do about the infamous political scandal.

One strange thing about Watergate, the scandal that led Richard Nixon to resign as president, is that 50 years later we still don't know who ordered the core crime or why.

Watergate as legend and myth is too important to be researched or scrutinized. So the MSM repeats the same old (discredited) cliches.

Watergate and history

Americans Aren’t Getting The Real Watergate Story From John Dean And CNN

Friday, April 29, 2022

"Vigorous organisms talk not about their processes, but about their aims. “

One tweet that cuts to the heart of the fatal flaw of NeverTrump. "Vigorous organisms talk not about their processes, but about their aims. “ 

The whole thread is well worth pondering.

GK Chesterton:

When everything about a people is for the time growing weak and ineffective, it begins to talk about efficiency. So it is that when a man's body is a wreck he begins, for the first time, to talk about health. Vigorous organisms talk not about their processes, but about their aims. There cannot be any better proof of the physical efficiency of a man than that he talks cheerfully of a journey to the end of the world. And there cannot be any better proof of the practical efficiency of a nation than that it talks constantly of a journey to the end of the world, a journey to the Judgment Day and the New Jerusalem. There can be no stronger sign of a coarse material health than the tendency to run after high and wild ideals; it is in the first exuberance of infancy that we cry for the moon. None of the strong men in the strong ages would have understood what you meant by working for efficiency. Hildebrand would have said that he was working not for efficiency, but for the Catholic Church. Danton would have said that he was working not for efficiency, but for liberty, equality, and fraternity.
The populist right often often taunts the establishment wing with the jab-- “What has Conservative, Inc. actually conserved?” The French Davidian wing's obsession with processes and “norms” suggest that they recognize that conserving anything of substance and value is beyond their power.

Oddly enough they are certain of one thing. Though they may be weak, exhausted, frightened, and out of ideas, they still presume that they are the natural and ordained leaders of the American right.

Is it any wonder that so many red state conservatives view them as Cromwell viewed the Rump Parliament?

It is not fit that you should sit here any longer. You have sat here too long for any good you have been doing lately … In the name of God go.


Monday, April 25, 2022

Tories contra Chicago

Thomas Carlyle:
If the cotton industry is founded on the bodies of rickety children, it must go; if the devil gets in you cotton-mill, shut the mill.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge:
You talk about making this article cheaper by reducing its price in the market from 8d to 6d. But suppose in doing so you have rendered your cvountry weaker against a foreign foe; suppose you have demoralized thousands of your fellow-countrymen, and have sown discontent between one class of society and another, your article is tolerably dear, I take it, after all.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Rejoice! He has risen!

Now upon the first day of the week, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing the spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them.

And they found the stone rolled away from the sepulchre.

And they entered in, and found not the body of the Lord Jesus.

And it came to pass, as they were much perplexed thereabout, behold, two men stood by them in shining garments:

And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

He is not here, but is risen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

And they remembered his words,

And returned from the sepulchre, and told all these things unto the eleven, and to all the rest.

It was Mary Magdalene, and Joanna, and Mary the mother of James, and other women that were with them, which told these things unto the apostles.

And their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.

Then arose Peter, and ran unto the sepulchre; and stooping down, he beheld the linen clothes laid by themselves, and departed, wondering in himself at that which was come to pass.

Luke 24: 1-12

Friday, April 15, 2022

"Wood and nails and colored eggs"

First Posted 22 March 2005 ​

This passage from Martin Bell's remarkable little book The Way of the Wolf: The Gospel in New Images seems especially timely this Easter season.

God raised Jesus from the dead to the end that we should be clear-once and for all-that there is nothing more important than being human. Our lives have eternal significance. And no one-absolutely no one-is expendable.

Colored Eggs

Some human beings are fortunate enough to be able to color eggs on Easter. If you have a pair of hands to hold the eggs, or if you are fortunate enough to be able to see the brilliant colors, then you are twice blessed.

This Easter some of us cannot hold the eggs, others of us cannot see the colors, many of us are unable to move at all-and so it will be necessary to color the eggs in our hearts.

This Easter there is a hydrocephalic child lying very still in a hospital bed nearby with a head the size of his pillow and vacant, unmoving eyes, and he will not be able to color Easter eggs, and he will not be able to color Easter eggs in his heart, and so God will have to color eggs for him.

And God will color eggs for him. You can bet your life and the life of the created universe on that.

At the cross of Calvary God reconsecrated and sanctified wood and nails and absurdity and helplessness to be continuing vehicles of his love. And then he simply raised Jesus from the dead. And they both went home and colored eggs

Sunday, April 10, 2022

Palm Sunday

The Donkey

When fishes flew and forests walked
And figs grew upon thorn,
Some moment when the moon was blood
Then surely I was born.

With monstrous head and sickening cry
And ears like errant wings,
The devil’s walking parody
On all four-footed things.

The tattered outlaw of the earth,
Of ancient crooked will;
Starve, scourge, deride me: I am dumb,
I keep my secret still.

Fools! For I also had my hour;
One far fierce hour and sweet:
There was a shout about my ears,
And palms before my feet.

GK Chesterton