“Now — let’s analyze what’s been working for us”
True folly, Tuchman found, is generally recognized as counterproductive in its own time, and not merely in hindsight. In Tuchman’s template, true folly only ensues when a clear alternative path of action was available and ruled out.
The following excerpt from Blueprint for Armageddon — parallels today’s trench warfare between armies of unreachables.
The Belgians are going to teach the first great lesson of the war — about what’s changed since the last time great powers faced off. How much the killing power that machines afforded mankind on the battlefield.
How much that had changed the age-old equation of war.
Machines have been taking over for a long time — becoming more and more important.
This is the war where they take over completely.
And man’s supremacy on the battlefield — even though they’re the ones who run the machines — will always be now secondary compared to the killing power and mechanization that can be brought to bear by modern societies. . . .
And one of the interesting sort of sub-themes of this whole upcoming conflict is:
How long it takes some people to absorb the lessons that are being taught in this conflict.
Lesson number one is how deadly the weapons are and how you have to account for that.
Some of the generals and military thinkers understood this going into the war, because they had paid close attention to the 1905 Russo-Japanese war . . .
That taught lessons about what happens when two sides armed with machine guns, and two sides armed with modern artillery and all that face off.
But the lessons were not the kind of lessons some people wanted to learn. . . .
These cavalry commanders don’t want to hear that it’s even worse than it used to be. . . .
If your country’s doctrine and your entire military is organized around the culture of the offensive . . . where it’s all about guts . . .
Nobody wants to hear that machine guns just rip guts out — that’s the only thing they care about guts, and it doesn’t work to have bayonet charges and ridiculous offenses.
Well, the French would say, “Yes, well what doesn’t work for the Russians or the Japanese — will work for the French — and that’s why we have a great military.”
There’s all kinds of ways to rationalize what you don’t want to learn.
Audio version (with additional commentary)
Tuchman alighted on a root cause of folly that she called “wooden-headedness” — defined in part as “assessing a situation in terms of preconceived fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting contrary information.”
Ever since I was a kid I loved The Ballad of the Green Berets. Every line is exquisite but the one that resonates with me most is “Men Who Mean Just What They Say.” The sound and rhythm that slowly intensifies throughout the song is sheer perfection.
That one could convey such a captivating story of triumph, tragedy, and tradition in 2 minutes and 26 seconds is a hallmark of magnificence.
I’ve never heard another song that so personified honor. I would like to think that bravery in battle would be worthy of intellectual courage from our keyboards.
— Richard W. Memmer (Prologue)
Glenn threw down the gauntlet in 1984
I did the same 7 years ago — but this is my target audience:
And one of the interesting sort of sub-themes of this whole upcoming conflict is how long it takes some people to absorb the lessons that are being taught in this conflict.
From I Don’t Do Slogans on The Yellow Brick Road:
But as sharp as Loury and McWhorter are — they need to spread their Necessary Roughness around . . .
“Now — let’s analyze what’s been working for us”
An endless barrage of niche-based argument to beat back bunk — has no chance of success in today’s trench warfare.
I know another way
This definitely feels like a bug here . . . this is going to take some much deeper investigation — WordPress Support Rep
I’m saying the whole system is failing — to a nation that refuses to recognize that there’s even a bug.
Unless it’s on the other side, of course.
They’re infested with ’em — while your side is a cleanroom for computer chips.
Continuing quote from Blueprint for Armageddon:
Many of the militaries of the world are organized like Napoleonic times. They don’t want to hear that that is a completely wrong way to be organized.
The French cavalry heading off to war . . . you have to imagine this:
If you want to see what Napoleon soldiers looked like — go look at pictures of the French cavalry in 1914 going off to war — with metal breastplates and horse hair helmets.
You’d have to be an expert to look at a picture of them in 1914 and a picture of Napoleon’s cavalry in 1814 — and find the differences.
The officers are gonna go to war in white gloves. They’re gonna have swords.
They’re gonna stand up and troops are gonna march into combat — in like billiard ball formations or bowling pin formations, drill formations from the battlefield.
None of the people who consider this to be an integral part of military culture want to learn that the rules have changed. . . .
The military virtues of valor that were so celebrated during this period — where the romance of warfare, which had always been strong in human culture, was probably at its height.
The 19th century — the romance was incredible.
This is the era where that romance runs into reality.
Here’s the thing that this war is gonna teach:
If you watch the Charge of the Light Brigade and you think it’s magnificent and brave — a doomed sort of attack on the part of incredibly courageous men:
What happens if, after the charge fails — they send another one and the same results occur.
And then they send another one and the same results occur.
And then they do it again and again
At what point does this wonderful, doomed, romantic celebration of the courage of the military heart become something obscene?
This war is gonna take us there — and it’s going to pound the point home till you’re sick of it.
Audio version (with additional commentary)
She also saw wooden-headedness as a certain proclivity for “acting according to wish while not allowing oneself to be deflected by facts.” Wooden-headedness, said Tuchman, was finally — “the refusal to benefit from experience.”
My mom told me about Glenn Loury being on Tucker Carlson Today — so I temporarily signed up so I could watch the interview. It was really enjoyable and I greatly respect his honesty about his background.
His candor is quite refreshing.
Back to Glenn in a bit
This document is 30 years old — given to me by the English Professor friend who took me under his wing and forever altered my future.
It’s impossible to overstate the inspiration I found in this printout — as I was transported to a whole other place of possibility.
I instantly identified with the last one. The quotes by themselves are fantastic, but it’s the person who provided them that made the moment magical.
A decade or so later, I wrote a poem in pursuit of a girl. Outside of school assignments, I had never written one. It was good enough for a first try, so I gave it to her.
Then I gave it to Tom to dissect in search of opportunities for future poems.
I think her dad appreciated it more than she did. He tacked it to his office wall as a daily reminder of their deep sea fishing trip.
She was like a lure that the fish would jump out the sea to be near.
And with the seed of that idea, the rest of the poem took shape.
It’s precisely to the point of all this — that the idea came to me while writing an email. Simply taking the time to say, “Hmm, that’s interesting” — was the catalyst for all my poems that followed.
But to get there — I needed the tools
Tom broke down my poem into 3 pages of analysis that provided a construct for writing poetry.
Knowing the fundamentals and abiding by them — can make all the difference in serving your cause with dignity. It can be a matter of life and death — and define the future of a nation and even the world.
On top of all that — it’s a helluva lot more interesting to learn from your fellow man than ridicule them.
But that’s me
I made some pretty big jumps from that first poem — and all it took was having the tools.
America has gone totally off the rails by abandoning the tools we were taught.
Everything’s a matter of faith-based belief now — allowing you to claim what cannot be reconciled with your record.
And you’re not one bit burdened by it.
Our country has become a free-for-all for whatever you wanna believe — no matter how dumb, dishonest, or delusional.
I didn’t get the memo
And even if I had — your freedom isn’t appealing to me in the least.
Even in the most unsophisticated years of my youth, I would have never bought something so impossibly simplistic as Sowell’s “said so and so.”
I don’t roll that way
This is my more style . . .
By late summer of 1756 Adams had made up his mind about the future. . . . Beholding the night sky, “the amazing concave of Heaven sprinkled and glittering with stars,” he was “thrown into a kind of transport” and knew such wonders to be the gifts of God, expressions of God’s love. But greatest of all, he wrote, was the gift of an inquiring mind.
“But all the provisions that He has [made] for the gratification of our senses . . . are much inferior to the provision, the wonderful provision that He has made for the gratification of our nobler powers of intelligence and reason. He has given us reason to find out the truth, and the real design and true end of our existence.”
To a friend Adams wrote, “It will be hard work, but the more difficult and dangerous the enterprise, a higher crown of laurel is bestowed on the conqueror. . . . But the point is now determined, and I shall have the liberty to think for myself.”
The next poem I wrote for that girl was in another dimension from the first — and I even had it put on a tealight candle.
I scoured the internet in search of just what I wanted. Like the combat boots the actor is wearing in the doc — rush ordered from England, as nothing less would do.
I came across a company in Canada that had exactly what I was looking for — but a banner of “Booked Through the Holidays” was atop their site.
I had sort of a double-date with dinner and The Marriage of Figaro to follow. The name of the poem, Carpe Diem — was the name of the restaurant (which was tied to the poem by our previous visit).
And the candle would already be on the table as if it were one of theirs.
All of that and more was planned out — and the only missing piece was the right company to make it. I emailed them and offered to pay their people overtime — whatever it took.
The owner got back to me and said that she was so taken by the story that they would happily make an exception.
The candle was magnificent — but the girl wasn’t as uplifted as I’d hoped.
It was well worth the journey regardless. And just in that side story alone, there are invaluable lessons for pushing the envelope of possibility.
In politics, you pursue everything as if there’s nothing to be gained from the manner of the pursuit.
You don’t concern yourselves with the trueness, quality, and creativity in the crafting of ideas — all that matters is what sells them.
#winning is your way way — and it shows
Despite the outcome in the end, I’m forever grateful to her for giving me the gift of inspiration — taking my mind and my abilities to places I never imagined.
Speaking of being inspired
From You Got Gold
I’m turning off our Crap is King culture and not letting any unworthy distractions get in the way of my goals. But every now and then something happens like George Floyd’s death, and right on cue comes the March of Folly in full battle regalia.
I just feel the need to say something about it — to harness that energy in the moment. And I love the challenge of channeling my thoughts to a world that will gleefully swat them away in an instant.
I was surprised last summer to see that I Don’t Do Slogans got as much positive feedback as it did.
I’m not saying it was a lot — I’m saying it was a lot more than I expected.
But to wake up one morning and find this pot of gold from Glenn Loury — was another life-altering moment (like that printout from another intellectual giant 30 years ago).
Hope is a good thing — maybe the best of things
I Don’t Do Slogans started this site — and not long ago, I got some more gold from Glenn:
I was on fire with inspiration — and Working the Refs soon followed. I was gonna take a break and for a while and get back on my other goals, but an idea hit me the moment I posted Working the Refs:
To write an apology for using this ridiculous graphic in the video montage that captures the essence of my documentary.
It’s bad enough that it’s the wrong Trayvon . . .
But big, bold letters of “The truth Should Not have an agenda!” is not my style.
My endless efforts to get it right on everything else — doesn’t excuse my carelessness.
Mea culpa! I made a mistake and I’m embarrassed by it.
None of that goin’ around
I had no idea it would turn into a blog series. I came up with Two Sides of the Same Counterfeit Coin several years ago — perfectly fitting for what I have to say.
As a byproduct of my mea culpa — I was able to show what he really looked like, which is precisely to the point of having purity of purpose . . .
That doing things for the right reasons bears fruit.
The reason you don’t know what he looked like — is because apologists have no such notion.
All they do is deal on the moment.
They think the end justifies the means
I say their means make damn sure it will never end.
I did a look-see for what others have said along those lines. What a gem — mine’s minor league compared to this:
“That’s gold, Jerry! Gold”
In 23 words, Huxley captured the core of what I’ve been saying for over 30 years.
From Part 6
I think what’s amazing . . . to give you a sense of the lack of danger here — is that the kid weighs 140 lbs . . .
Lemme tell you what’s amazing, Cenk — you guys making 2 key factual errors in 33 seconds:
Even if nothing comes of it, I’m forever grateful to Glenn and all those who offer encouragement in my cause.
Someday, perhaps you’ll see that my cause can help yours — and I’ll be glad of that, even if I don’t share some of your views.
There’s a plan in the works — bear with me as I lay the foundation for it.
On that note
I’ve got a long list of real good reasons
For all the things I’ve done
I’ve got a picture in the back of my mind
Of what I’ve lost and what I’ve won
I’ve survived every situation
Knowing when to freeze and when to run
And regret is just a memory written on my brow
And there’s nothin’ I can do about it now
I’ve got a wild and a restless spirit
I held my price through every deal
I’ve seen the fire of a woman’s scorn
Turn her heart of gold to steel
I’ve got the song of the voice inside me
Set to the rhythm of the wheel
And I’ve been dreamin’ like a child
Since the cradle broke the bow
And there’s nothin’ I can do about it now
Glenn Loury is one of the deepest and most interesting public intellectuals in the country, and has been for a very long time. He started out as a mathematician then became an economist, and now teaches at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island.
— Tucker Carlson
Out of all the good stuff in Glenn’s interview — this caught my attention the most:
We’re a university. We should be above whatever the fad or the fashion is of any given day. We should be looking at the deep questions. We should be analytical. We should be emphasizing reason. Instead, it was like a kind of emotional rush — in which . . . the president and provost and the top leadership of my university — wanted to jump on a bandwagon. They wanted to wave a banner.
And I thought to myself, what have we come to at the university — that the first reaction to grave matters — and the rioting in the street after George Floyd died is a grave matter.
That the reaction is not to think it through, not to question, not to assemble facts, not to make arguments — but instead to wave banners and spout slogans such that you could hardly distinguish what they were doing from a manifesto that would come out of Black Lives Matter
— Glenn Loury
Remove the references around George Floyd — and that behavior rings a bell.
Now I Remember . . . as the patriots “Never Forget“
the aftermath of this
That the reaction is not to think it through, not to question, not to assemble facts, not to make arguments — but instead to wave banners and spout slogans such that you could hardly distinguish what they were doing from a manifesto that would come out of . . .
A young man sittin’ on the witness stand
The man with the book says “Raise your hand”
“Repeat after me, I solemnly swear”
The man looked down at his long hair
And although the young man solemnly swore
Nobody seemed to hear anymore
And it didn’t really matter if the truth was there
It was the cut of his clothes and the length of his hair
Amazingly, The Spirit of St. Thomas could not see what became abundantly clear to me on the biggest matter of our time.
How could that be?
He wasn’t a hard-liner — with one exception: The appearance of propriety.
There’s been incalculable death, destruction, and suffering from the pretense of decorum throughout our nation’s history.
As shown in the doc, he was invested in the image of Colin Powell. A lot of people were — which was the point of making him the face of the fraud.
Seduced by the Secretary
If something doesn’t add up, I don’t care who they are or what they can do for me — I’m asking some questions.
I didn’t know anything about uranium enrichment, but just the term alone sounds pretty involved.
“Said so and so” — doesn’t
In order to ascertain the truth, shouldn’t we seek some baseline understanding of what we’re actually talking about?
- What is uranium enrichment?
- Who are the top-notch experts/agencies in this field?
- What are the material properties of modern centrifuge rotors?
- Aluminum was used in the 50s — okay, we’ve got match on material, but what about the dimensions?
- The difference between a wall thickness of 1mm and 3mm, might as well be 10. So we’ve got a major mismatch on a factor that could not be more critical.
I wrote and produced the most comprehensive documentary ever done on this topic — all others combined don’t even come close to the granularity of mine.
But just in what you see in the bullet points above and the bit below — should be plenty to spark a . . .
After the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq declared its possession of 160,000 high-strength aluminum tubes that had been intended for their Nasser-81 mm rocket — [which is] a reverse-engineered version of the Italian Medusa. The August 17th, 2001 D.O.E. paper pointed out that the dimensions and material of these tubes were an exact match for the tubes Iraq was pursuing in 2001.
On its face, this claim is preposterous
So you wanna ignore the word of a physicist — in favor of know-it-alls who won’t go anywhere near this topic and never have?
Explain to me how that fits into following the facts.
It’s astounding how the mind can pull off psychological gymnastics that allow us to believe what we say without any sense of accounting for it
— Richard W. Memmer
for the millionth time:
THIS does not = THAT
Many students resist having their beliefs questioned by invoking the claim that “Everyone is entitled to his own belief” or “All opinions are equal.” The corollary notion is that therefore no justifications for beliefs are necessary. The difficulty with this perspective is that it implies that all disagreements concerning beliefs are personal disagreements or slights.
If there exist reasons for one’s opinions, then a difference of opinions becomes an opportunity for understanding how someone else’s reasoning leads them to a different opinion. If, on the other hand, if there are no reasons for opinions, students are more likely to take differences of opinion as insults or as injuries to their self-esteem.
Rather than assert than all opinions are equal, students in seminar learn to judge opinions on the basis of the reasons given for those opinions.
“learn to judge opinions on the basis of the reasons given for those opinions“
Nobody ever had to explain that to me.
I’m sure you all feel the same — and yet here we are.
And then you have this parade of professionals like Elder and Sowell who obfuscate even the most obvious lies — while simultaneously selling themselves as stalwarts of reason.
Borrowing from Glenn Loury’s [R]ebuttal to Brown University’s letter on racism in the United States . . .
I must object
The Left has its own set of charlatans
It’s impossible to overstate how dangerous and damaging it is to place blind faith in purveyors of poppycock.
Never mind the harm to the unseen who suffer and die from your folly . . .
But by refusing to hold your own accountable, you do them a grave disservice — as they do the same to you.
Trillion Dollar Tube
SCOTT PELLEY: Do you know one in academia, in government, in a foreign country who disagrees with your appraisal, who says “Yes, these are for nuclear weapons.”
DR. HOUSTON WOOD: I don’t know a single one anywhere.
The North Star
No amount of Bush hating or Bush loving is gonna change whether not the tubes can maintain 90,000 RPM.
Centrifuge physics don’t care about the Supreme Court.
But that’s what you’ve done with everything that threatens your interests. And what entirely escapes you — is that behaving that way does enormous damage to those interests in the long run.
What we’ve done is turn a mission field into a battlefield
— Part 5
A friend recently told me of a mutual friend deactivating his Facebook account over “what FB has become.”
I find that amusing — since he was a pioneer in peddling poppycock 15 years before Facebook existed.
Fittingly, he’s the friend I’m referring to in the following clip.
Return to Sender
Being his best friend a lifetime ago — groomed me for what the country has become. He and his entire family embody the shitshow of America — and act like they had nothin’ to do with it.
A lot of that goin’ around
That family has some of the finest people I’ve ever known — and they profoundly impacted my life back in the day.
Politics & religion were always in the atmosphere whenever I visited their home, but as hardline as it was — it wasn’t poisonous.
They lost their way long ago.
In making a point about principle and consistency in character, I once told that friend, “I’m the same person I’ve always been, to which he ridiculously replied, “Well, I’ve evolved.”
In reconnecting with his brother 10 years ago, he invited me up for a visit. In our next conversation he relayed what he told his wife about me:
Rick’s the most honest guy you’ll ever meet
That is the “same person I’ve always been” — and any rational person gets that. But how he twisted my words to frame them in his favor — is what you’re doing on a daily basis in pursuit of your precious values.
That family always had an ax to grind — and the Left was happy to oblige by doing what they do best:
Here we have a perfect expression of the most self-destructive Democratic disease which they seem unable to cure. More than anything — they fear looking weak. To avoid this, they cave, surrender, capitulate — and stand for nothing.
— Glenn Greenwald
The Left institutionalizes weakness — and the Democratic Party is notorious for lacking backbone.
All this ludicrous lingo and ever-expanding acronyms . . .
You are utterly oblivious to the fact that you are weakening the very people you’re trying to strengthen.
branding weakness to boot
And right on cue, the Right kicks the shit out of you for it. I don’t blame ’em — except for the part about them being weak while branding strength.
In our culture of instant offense, we ban before we think. However, banning isn’t a sign of strength or resolve, but an admission of defeat, of showing how little we have engaged with whatever the bigger issue that belies the ban.
Instead of asking or addressing the roots of violent racism in the South in 2015 — far too difficult, far too intimidating — we focus on symbols. If we take a flag down, if we remove a TV show from the schedules, it shows we are doing something. It shows our hearts are in the right places.
Elaine’s exasperation x 100 = how impossibly stupid it is that they banned The Dukes of Hazzard.
But the high five is just so stupid!
The ban is bad enough by itself — but it’s beyond belief that you don’t grasp what comes with it.
A year or two ago on Twitter — a white-guilt guy blocked me for politely mentioning that Black Lives Matter is a counterproductive cause.
That’s the best ya got?
You’d think that a party that prides itself on intellectualism would examine the efficacy of their efforts.
Perhaps even try some predictive analysis . . .
“On top of all that, it seems that the more sensitive we try to be, the more hypersensitive our culture has become. That wasn’t our aim.” — The Yellow Brick Road
What the powers that be in most companies don’t get — is that you create more conflict in cultures that go to excessive lengths to avoid it. It’s just that the conflict is concealed in subtleties that disguise mounting frustration and waste.
While you put out your PR and pretend this undercurrent of crap doesn’t exist. — Part 9 . . .
The same guy who wrote the Green Book bit below — laughed out loud at her language that’s untethered to reality.
In other words, you’re failing — miserably
The Left lumps me in with the Right — the Right lumps me with the Left . . .
Delighting in The Safety Dance of Self-Delusion
Say, we can go where we want to
A place where they will never find
And we can act like we come from out of this world
Leave the real one far behind . . .
We can go when we want to
The night is young and so am I
And we can dress real neat from our hats to our feet
And surprise ’em with the victory cry
Say, we can act if we want to
If we don’t, nobody will
And you can act real rude and totally removed
And I can act like an imbecile . . .
We can dance if we want to
We’ve got all your life and mine
As long as we abuse it, never gonna lose it
Everything will work out right
Hard to Imagine
Will crash across your southern capes
Will reach your eastern shores
Fields of green
Will tumble through your summer days
In your time
Feel the wind
And set yourself the bolder course
Keep your heart
As open as a shrine
You’ll sail the perfect line