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February 2023
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Capitalist Crapola

I am a staunch believer in Capitalism (as well as a good Union person), but I have come to the conclusion over the years that much of what I learned in my youth is a steaming pile of horse effluvia. Two examples:

The Wisdom of The Markets

It is said that if there is a free and fair flow of information, all stocks, bonds and assets are fairly priced because the joint wisdom of the masses is accurate. I remember my professor having a hard time not laughing when he taught us this at MIT. My mother, on the other hand, sagely noted that the masses are asses. For sure, the “market” is short term, eco-unfriendly, hostile to organized labor and suffers from multiple other biases which cloud its judgment.

Capture the Value of your Labor

One decade into my two decades at CMP, I left to join my friend, the late Richard Dalton, in a consultancy called Keep/Track Corp. I had been raised on the idea that in capitalism, corporate capital captures the value-added of your labor. “I’ll capture it myself,” I thought. Turns out the added value of my labor in a large technical media company was high; the value of said labor in a two-person consultancy was nil.

This and That

About Celebrity Journalism
“If the headlines scream about the living arrangements of the sitcom actress Ellen DeGeneres, what will they do if there is another Hiroshima?”
―Pete Hamill

Baffling Sleep Stats
I got five hours sleep instead of my usual seven. Most mornings I begin with meditation, then the Elevate app to exercise my mind. I got three record high scores on six exercises. I am baffled. Any theories about why short sleep would IMPROVE your mental acumen?

I recently asked someone for an idiot-proof interface, which took me back 50 years: “There is no such thing as idiot-proof because idiots are so ingenious.”

Graceful Exits
Graceful Exits, How Great Beings Die, by Sushila Blackman, is a compilation of the death stories of 108 Hindu, Tibetan Buddhist, and Zen masters. It’s an amazing book; I read it a long time ago and forgot to mention it in my column or book list. I am now remedying that error. I highly recommend it, even if you’re not spiritually inclined.

More on Strategic Bombing

OK, I know this is a weird obsession of mine, but ever since my “read everything ever written about World War II” phase, which came when I was 13, I have been fascinated by the still endless debate about the effectiveness of strategic bombing.

I recently exchanged email on the subject with William H. Roberts, my first managing editor at The Tech, a career naval man, and a published author on war tactics. Here’s his latest:

There have indeed been a lot of questions as to the efficacy of “strategic bombing” and I would say the record is mixed, with much ink expended—the US Strategic Bombing Survey (WWII) and Gulf War Air Power Survey (Gulf War I) come to mind. The WWII application of strategic bombardment was based in great part on the hope that air power could win a war cleanly, without the massive casualties of WWI, which hope was encouraged by pre-WWII thinking that grossly exaggerated the preciseness of “precision” bombardment and believed that “the bomber will always get through.”

That last quote was from a piece of Bill’s  on the Civil War Monitor program, “Transformational thinking stresses a new technology’s disruptive effects and minimizes its drawbacks, devaluing experience and seeing a future in which all that is past will be swept away.”

 There’s more on WWI and pre-WWII thought at Brett Holman’s blog,

Sad Newspaper News

The United States has lost one-fourth of its newspapers since 2004. And today, more than 200 of the nation’s 3,143 counties have no newspaper and no alternative source of credible information on critical issues—with two-thirds of all counties lacking a daily newspaper.