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Posts Tagged ‘History’

Fascism arrives as your friend.
It will restore your honor, make you feel proud, protect your house, give you a job, clean up your neighborhood, remind you of how great you once were, clear out the venal and the corrupt, remove anything you feel is unlike you….
In my work with the defendants I was searching for the nature of evil, and now I think I have come close to defining it.  A lack of empathy.  It’s the one characteristic that connects all the defendants, a genuine incapacity to deal with their fellow men.  Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy.
  —  Captain Gustave M. Gilbert
Army psychologist assigned to observe the defendants at the Nuremberg trials
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On This Day In:
2019 Still Better Than Third
2018 A Tough Row To Hoe
2017 Just In Case
2016 Republicans Eat Their Young
2015 Still 99%
2014 Affirming The Wall
2013 Maintain The Freedom
2012 All Good
2011 Fountains Of Life
Staying Alive

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Perhaps the most telling email is a message from a then executive named Sam Lessin to Zuckerberg that epitomizes Facebook’s penchant for self-justification.  The company, Lessin wrote, could be ruthless and committed to social good at the same time, because they are essentially the same thing:  “Our mission is to make the world more open and connected and the only way we can do that is with the best people and the best infrastructure, which requires that we make a lot of money / be very profitable.”
The message also highlighted another of the company’s original sins: its assertion that if you just give people better tools for sharing, the world will be a better place.  That’s just false.  Sometimes Facebook makes the world more open and connected; sometimes it makes it more closed and disaffected.  Despots and demagogues have proven to be just as adept at using Facebook as democrats and dreamers.  Like the communications innovations before it — the printing press, the telephone, the internet itself — Facebook is a revolutionary tool.  But human nature has stayed the same.
  —  Nicholas Thompson and Fred Vogelstein
From their article: “15 Months of Fresh Hell Inside Facebook
Appearing in: Wired Magazine, dtd: May 2019
Online at: https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-mark-zuckerberg-15-months-of-fresh-hell/
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On This Day In:
2019 Sometimes Too Subtle
2018 A Lot Like Teaching
2017 Wake Up
2016 I Like Dreaming
2015 Importance
2014 Unearned Humility
2013 Science Is Trial And Error
2012 Franklin’s Creed
2011 First Steps
2010 Home Ill…

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Now that I’ve turned my mind to reveling in the glory of technology, I’ve been gazing  back at the olden, golden days.  And the other day I remembered that, once upon a time, humans had to remember things.
  —  Ripley D. Light
From his editorial titled:  “Totally Wired
Appearing in Wired Magazine, dtd:  May 2019
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On This Day In:
2019 Two Guides
2018 A Call For You
2017 Because I Read
2016 On What Matters…
2015 Social Security
2014 Bewitching
2013 Visiting Joy
2012 Dedication To Today
2011 Project Second Chance – Adult Literacy
Turning Coal Into Diamonds

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Circles” (2000©)  —  book review
Today’s book review is for one of the many books written by James Burke, who’s claim to fame is his ability to popularize science / technology with history and biography to “create” linkages which make the world (and history) appear to be interconnected.  I believe his most well known work is the book and the BBC series “Connections“.  At least this is how I first came to know Burke (and enjoy his work).
Circles” is sub-titled “50 Round Trips through History, Technology, Science, Culture“.  The book is a collection of essays which have been gathered into this form.  Each “essay” / “trip” is about four pages and they are each fairly self-contained, so there is no inherent requirement to read them in order – or all of them for that matter.  Each starts with some action in his life: a trip to the library, beach, coffee shop, etc; winds through the “circle” of people / history / discovery he is hi-lighting and then gets wrapped up with another reference to the initial action / place.
The stories are mildly interesting.  The links are tenuous.  The author occasionally breaks the fourth wall.  But, most frequently, the author writes in a peculiar conversational form which struck me as not using full sentences or proper sentence structure.  I found it hard to discern if this was more conversational, breaking of the fourth wall or simply lazy writing.  In the end, I just found it frustrating to try to figure out the subject of a sentence by having to re-read sentences (or paragraphs).
Final recommendation: poor to moderate recommendation.  I admit to being pretty disappointed.  I was a big fan of his “Connections” series and watched it on my local Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) many years ago.  I think I also read the book (way back when), but I can’t swear to it.  I was, therefore, looking forward to more of the same.  This book mostly was “just” the same, but (surprisingly) much less interesting or amusing.  Now I think I have to go back and find the original book (“Connections“) to see if the author has changed or if it’s the reader (me) who has changed.
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On This Day In:
2019 Eureka!
2018 Learning About My Humanity
2017 Laugh Or Shake Your Head
2016 The Expected Cure
2015 Of Two Minds
2014 Pride And Remembrance
2013 Repeating Bad Memories
2012 No Sooner
2011 Just Cheesy!
Are You Illin’?

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5 February 2020
ROMNEY SPEECH (AS PREPARED FOR DELIVERY) REGARDING HIS VOTE TO CONFIRM THE IMPEACHMENT OF PRESIDENT TRUMP:
The Constitution is at the foundation of our Republic’s success, and we each strive not to lose sight of our promise to defend it.  The Constitution established the vehicle of impeachment that has occupied both houses of Congress for these many days.  We have labored to faithfully execute our responsibilities to it.  We have arrived at different judgments, but I hope we respect each other’s good faith.
The allegations made in the articles of impeachment are very serious.  As a Senator-juror, I swore an oath, before God, to exercise “impartial justice.”  I am a profoundly religious person.  I take an oath before God as enormously consequential.  I knew from the outset that being tasked with judging the President, the leader of my own party, would be the most difficult decision I have ever faced.  I was not wrong.
The House Managers presented evidence supporting their case; the White House counsel disputed that case.  In addition, the President’s team presented three defenses: first, that there can be no impeachment without a statutory crime; second, that the Bidens’ conduct justified the President’s actions; and third that the judgement of the President’s actions should be left to the voters. Let me first address each of those defenses.
The historic meaning of the words “high crimes and misdemeanors,” the writings of the Founders and my own reasoned judgement convince me that a president can indeed commit acts against the public trust that are so egregious that while they are not statutory crimes, they would demand removal from office.  To maintain that the lack of a codified and comprehensive list of all the outrageous acts that a president might conceivably commit renders Congress powerless to remove a president defies reason.
The President’s counsel noted that Vice President Biden appeared to have a conflict of interest when he undertook an effort to remove the Ukrainian Prosecutor General.  If he knew of the exorbitant compensation his son was receiving from a company actually under investigation, the Vice President should have recused himself.  While ignoring a conflict of interest is not a crime, it is surely very wrong.
With regards to Hunter Biden, taking excessive advantage of his father’s name is unsavory but also not a crime.  Given that in neither the case of the father nor the son was any evidence presented by the President’s counsel that a crime had been committed, the President’s insistence that they be investigated by the Ukrainians is hard to explain other than as a political pursuit.  There is no question in my mind that were their names not Biden, the President would never have done what he did.
The defense argues that the Senate should leave the impeachment decision to the voters.  While that logic is appealing to our democratic instincts, it is inconsistent with the Constitution’s requirement that the Senate, not the voters, try the president.  Hamilton explained that the Founders’ decision to invest senators with this obligation rather than leave it to voters was intended to minimize — to the extent possible — the partisan sentiments of the public.
This verdict is ours to render.  The people will judge us for how well and faithfully we fulfilled our duty.  The grave question the Constitution tasks senators to answer is whether the President committed an act so extreme and egregious that it rises to the level of a “high crime and misdemeanor.”
Yes, he did.
The President asked a foreign government to investigate his political rival.
The President withheld vital military funds from that government to press it to do so.
The President delayed funds for an American ally at war with Russian invaders.
The President’s purpose was personal and political.
Accordingly, the President is guilty of an appalling abuse of the public trust.
What he did was not “perfect” — No, it was a flagrant assault on our electoral rights, our national security interests, and our fundamental values.  Corrupting an election to keep oneself in office is perhaps the most abusive and destructive violation of one’s oath of office that I can imagine.
In the last several weeks, I have received numerous calls and texts.  Many demand that, in their words, “I stand with the team.”  I can assure you that that thought has been very much on my mind.  I support a great deal of what the President has done.  I have voted with him 80% of the time.  But my promise before God to apply impartial justice required that I put my personal feelings and biases aside.  Were I to ignore the evidence that has been presented, and disregard what I believe my oath and the Constitution demands of me for the sake of a partisan end, it would, I fear, expose my character to history’s rebuke and the censure of my own conscience.
I am aware that there are people in my party and in my state who will strenuously disapprove of my decision, and in some quarters, I will be vehemently denounced.  I am sure to hear abuse from the President and his supporters.  Does anyone seriously believe I would consent to these consequences other than from an inescapable conviction that my oath before God demanded it of me?
I sought to hear testimony from John Bolton not only because I believed he could add context to the charges, but also because I hoped that what he said might raise reasonable doubt and thus remove from me the awful obligation to vote for impeachment.
Like each member of this deliberative body, I love our country. I believe that our Constitution was inspired by Providence.  I am convinced that freedom itself is dependent on the strength and vitality of our national character.  As it is with each senator, my vote is an act of conviction.  We have come to different conclusions, fellow senators, but I trust we have all followed the dictates of our conscience.
I acknowledge that my verdict will not remove the President from office.  The results of this Senate Court will in fact be appealed to a higher court: the judgement of the American people.  Voters will make the final decision, just as the President’s lawyers have implored.  My vote will likely be in the minority in the Senate.  But irrespective of these things, with my vote, I will tell my children and their children that I did my duty to the best of my ability, believing that my country expected it of me.  I will only be one name among many, no more or less, to future generations of Americans who look at the record of this trial.  They will note merely that I was among the senators who determined that what the President did was wrong, grievously wrong.
We’re all footnotes at best in the annals of history.  But in the most powerful nation on earth, the nation conceived in liberty and justice, that is distinction enough for any citizen.
Senator Mitt Romney
(R) Utah
[I was torn between titling this post as “Profile In Courage” and / or “A Candle In The Wind“.  In the end, I chose to emphasize the individuality of the speech / act rather than the courage of the decision or the political precariousness of the position.  I believe history will judge Mitt Romney as more than just a “footnote” and somewhere there is a dad (George W. Romney) looking down on his son with pride.    —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2019 Hopefully, Closer To Noon
Can You See The Bottom?
2018 Stock Market Sets Another Record Under #DumbDonald
#LyingDonald: About That Special Prosecutor Testimony
2017 We Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet
2016 But You Have To Learn It Feels Good
2015 Never Stop
2014 Caution
2013 Treat Her Like A Lady
2012 Build New Worlds
2011 I Grok Elegance
Standing Relish

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Three great forces rule the world: stupidity, fear and greed.
  —  Albert Einstein
[Friday’s vote in the U.S. Senate…  I’ve been reading some of the press releases from the Republican Senators who voted to block all new testimony and evidence in the impeachment trial of President Trump:  We don’t need anymore new evidence because the House Managers have proven the President is guilty and we don’t want the American public to hear anymore evidence in “our” (Republican controlled) chamber.  We’ve closed the book on this case, so let’s get on with voting to dismiss the impeachment because we Republicans don’t care that he’s guilty of violating his oath of Office by abusing his power.  (paraphrasing Tennessee Republican Senator Lamar Alexander)  What Alexander didn’t say was:  “I’m not even willing to discuss the President’s guilt in obstructing Congress ’cause I just said he was guilty and why should a guilty Republican President have to provide evidence (documents or witnesses) about his own guilt just because a Democratic controlled House of Representatives wants us to fulfill our Constitution mandated oversight responsibilities.”
The above quote (from Einstein) was found at one of the blogs I follow:   https://aponderingmind.org
The specific link is:  https://aponderingmind.org/2020/01/01/three-great-forces-rule-the-world-stupidity-fear-and-greed-albert-einstein/
Please visit the site if you have a spare moment…  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2019 Contributing To Congress
Yellow Signs Of Spring
2018 But Take Heart
Poetic Marker
2017 The Few, The Many, The Most
2016 To My Brother
2015 For Junior
A Roman Rome
2014 Hmmm
2013 What’s A Motto With You?
2012 Worthy Companions
2011 Bourne Again
Which Ten Are You In?

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The Mask Of Command — book review
Today’s book review is for “The Mask Of Command” (1987©), written by John Keegan.  Sir John Desmond Patrick Keegan OBE (Order of the British Empire) and FRSL (Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature) was an English military historian, lecturer (at Sandhurst – the English equivalent of West Point) and writer.  Keegan is considered (in my opinion) one of the “modern” expert military historians. I understand his basic premise to be that conflict in general and war in specific is cultural and not necessarily an extension of political governance.  This is in contrast with Clausewitz who stated that war is politics by other means.  Keegan is criticized for “disagreement” with Clausewitz.
As a secondary aside, I started reading about military theory (“strategy”) back in my early 20’s when I began reading about generals (mostly Patton) and the works of B. H. Liddell Hart were recommended to me by a roommate.  I read Liddell Hart’s book: “Strategy: The Indirect Approach“, which I must say greatly influenced my life by profoundly changing my view of the world.  My hope was to learn about leadership by studying the great generals.  Instead, what I found was that leadership is not the same thing as strategy and is, instead, founded on the person and the time in history the person lives, whereas strategy tends to be principled and more timeless.
This realization pretty much ties into the basis for this book, which is a study of four “great” commanders / leaders and looks at what made three succeed and one (ultimately) fail terribly.  The three successful commanders are: Alexander the Great, Wellington, and U.S. Grant.  The failure is: Hitler.
Keegan’s proposal in this book is based on “heroic” aspects (“title”) of military leadership: heroic, anti-heroic, non-heroic, and fake heroic.  To do this, Keegan establishes the cultural climate of each commander and then tries to explain it’s (the culture’s) effect on the military leader via their proximity to combat and personal exposure to danger.  Essentially, for most of man’s history, muscle and physical courage were the requirement of military leadership.  As the age of gunpowder emerged, the risk to the commander increased and they were forced to withdrawal from danger and thus “military” leadership changed.  Alexander had to fight hand-to-hand to prove his courage while leading from the front; Wellington could stay within sight of his forces, but had to stay a minimal distance from accurate musket range; Grant could not frequently approach the front lines; and, Hitler never exposed himself to physical danger (with the exception of possible assassination) and used propaganda to convince his forces that he was a soldier battling at their side.
The book has five main chapters (one for each leader / type) and the last is about leadership in the age of nuclear weapons.  I found this the most fascinating (timely?) chapter of the book as it proposes a “new” type of post-heroic military / political leader and attempts to posit President Kennedy as this “ideal” leader.
While I found the book to be an interesting (sometimes fascinating) read, it was not an easy read.  Keegan loves his erudite words and his complicated phrasing of sentences.  The punctuation is “British” (I guess), and I found many times I had to go back and re-read a sentence or paragraph to figure out what the heck he was talking about.  Frequently, his sentences appeared to be declarative, but were, in fact, interrogatory (questions), or vice-versa, and you (“I”) couldn’t tell until you (“I”) hit the question mark or period at the end of the sentence.  Occasionally, even though I was aware of this writing style, Keegan still caught me off guard and I had to go back and try to figure out what he was on about.  Which means I knew it was happening, and anticipating it, but continued to find it distracting.
Other than this (quibble), I found the book to be quite enjoyable.  Keegan has a keen method of describing battles and you can sometimes feel yourself seeing the carnage and tasting the spent gunpowder in the air.  At less than 400 pages, it seems also to be a quick read, but I suggest not rushing head-long through it in one or two sittings as the book is widely considered to be a classic and deserves a bit of contemplation as well as enjoyment.
Final recommendation: highly recommended! This book is a classic for a reason…  The battlefield descriptions are superb and Keegan’s argument is well presented – even if not wholly convincing (to me, anyway).  Still, regardless if you are new to military history or a veteran of any military genre, I think you’ll enjoy this book.  There will, of course, be a few quotes from this book appearing on my blog in the coming weeks / months.
Two final thoughts: 1) I was not (am not) convinced President Kennedy is THE model for the post-heroic commander.  I found Keegan’s reporting on / analysis of the Cuban Missile Crisis a bit simplistic.  And, 2) even if I had read this book on first printing, I doubt it would have influenced my world-view the way Liddell Hart’s book did.  Both are classics for any military reader, just different.  Just sayin’…
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On This Day In:
2019 #ContinueToResist
Except Willful Ignorance And Prideful Stupidity
2018 More Executive Time For #DumbDonald
2017 Watched The Inauguration
Two Geniuses
2016 Come Dance And Laugh With Me
2015 Looks Good To Me
2014 Desire For The Sea
2013 The Fierce Urgency Of NOW
Happy Inauguration Day!
2012 One Path
Sorrow And Joy
The Seven Year View
2011 Emergent Practicality

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