Tag Archives: History

What we know or think we know.

INDIA

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

The Ministry of Utmost Happiness: A Novel

Written by: Arundhati Roy

Narrated by: Arundhati Roy

ARUNDHATI ROY (INDIAN AUTHOR, WINNER OF THE BOOKER PRIZE FOR – THE GOD OF SMALL THINGS)

Arundhati Roy characterizes India’s governance in her new novel, “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”.  She pictures India as culturally diverse; however, it is defined by separateness and injustice more than freedom and equality-of-opportunity.

India’s population; not its territorial size, makes it the largest democratic republic in the world.  Roy exposes India’s democracy and its flaws.  The flaws she identifies are reminders of America’s democratic failings.

Without having traveled to India (a trip is planned in February 2018), much of the author’s writing resonates with what is happening in America.  Roy observes Indian society as she lives it.  This is only her second novel in the last twenty years.  With a host of fascinating characters, Roy offers an insightful vision of modern India.  Her writing beautifully describes Indian society while beating democracy with an ugly-stick.

Roy’s writing beautifully describes Indian society while beating democracy with an ugly-stick.

One can personally believe in the value of democracy in the world and still appreciate what Roy says about failures of democracy in India.  A joke that Roy tells capsulizes a major flaw in democracy.  Because of difference among followers of the Muslim religion, Roy illustrates the absurdity of volitional separateness.  A comparable joke in American history might be as follows:

Picture a Union soldier at the beginning of the Civil War with the intention of jumping off Fort Sumter’s wall to his death.  A Rebel soldier sticks his head out to talk the Union soldier off the ledge.

BATTLE OF FORT SUMTER (Picture a Union soldier at the beginning of the Civil War with the intention of jumping off Fort Sumter to his death.  A Rebel soldier sticks his head out to presumably talk the Union soldier off the ledge.)

Rebel soldier: “Where are you from?”

Union soldier: “South Carolina.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I’m a God-fearing Baptist.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe in State’s Rights.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I’m a white American and believe in the superiority of the white race.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe Negroes are unequal to whites.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe a woman’s place is in the home.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe in majority rule for States’ Rights.”

Rebel soldier: “Me too.”

Union soldier: “I believe in a federalist government that makes States stronger and guarantees life, and liberty for all.”

The Rebel soldier leans over and pushes the Union soldier off the ledge.

SAYYID QUTB (1906-1966, EGYPTIAN AUTHOR,EDUCATOR,ISLAMIC THEORIST,POET,AND LEADING MEMBER OF THE MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD)

In contrast, Roy’s story is about two Indian Muslims that are the same on most levels.  However, as each layer of similarity is revealed, a singular difference compels hostility, imprisonment, injury, or murder.  That theme carries through in every character in “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”.  The irony of Roy’s title resonates in each chapter of the book.

In the beginning of Roy’s story, a family has their first boy child.  The child is born with both male and female parts.  The mother conceals the child’s circumstance from the father until the boy begins to exhibit a desire to be a girl.  The girl is rejected by her father.  She seeks refuge in a house where other hermaphrodites live.  She grows to adulthood but becomes isolated from Indian society.  She is an extraordinary woman who establishes an outcasts’ haven in a cemetery that attracts equally shunned Indians.  (One is reminded of the many minorities in America who are driven to similar non-judgmental enclaves.)

TRANSGENDER TWITTER BY TRUMP ; e.g. AMERICA’S REJECTION OF DIVERSITY.

Roy’s novel reflects on relations between India, Pakistan, and China in Kashmir.  She notes Muslim influence throughout India that sharply differentiates the majority Hindu population in India from the Muslim majority in Kashmir.  The complexity of Kashmiri society pits Muslim against Muslim, Hindu against Muslim, Asian against Muslim, Pakistani and Chinese against Indian.  The irony is that this is democracy.

KASHMIR AREAS OF DISPUTE

The ideal of democracy is to meld different cultures into one multi-cultural and accepting society with a belief in a common good.  However, human nature gets in the way.  The drive for money, power, and prestige is unleashed by democracy in ways that separate cultures from humanity.  The rich become richer at the expense of the poor.  Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely.  Hubris qualifies one child for Harvard; another for military service, community college, or poverty row.

AFTERLIFE (Death is a belief of a beloved that no one is missed because they are always with you. )

Roy’s novel is about life and death.  No one ever dies in her story; i.e. they just move on.  Death is belief of a beloved that no one is missed because they are always with you.

Roy’s story is not written as a political manifesto.  It is about human nature; not about governments or their politics.  Roy’s book seems a plea for people to recognize diversity in humanity; i.e. to accept rather than reject, and not to isolate, injure, and/or murder the “other”.

Roy is an idealist who sees the world as it is.  The reality is we live in a world as it is; not as it ought to be.

Roy infers the world should let Pakistanis, Afghans, Kashmiris, Iraqis, Syrians, Indians; and other nation-builders choose their own way of life.  Only in the context of human nature, does one size fit all.  To date, no government seems capable of achieving acceptance of diversity, but some are better than others.

This review fails to show how beautifully this story is written.  One can enjoy Roy’s book  just for the images she creates with words.

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CLOSE GAME; DEEP GAME

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Playing to the Edge: American Intelligence in the Age of Terror

Written by: Michael V. Hayden

Narrated by: Michael V. Hayden

MICHAEL HAYDEN (AUTHOR,4 STAR AIRFORCE GENERAL,FORMER NSA DIRECTOR,FORMER CIA DIRECTOR)

General Hayden deserves praise for his candor about the functions of the NSA (the National Security Administration) and CIA (Central Intelligence Agency).  Undoubtedly, much is not said because of the nature of the subject but Hayden offers a picture of America’s secret service that is at once necessary and discomfiting.

Necessity revolves around what Hayden calls the “close game”.  Discomfort comes from a misapprehension of what he calls the “deep game”.  The close game is clandestine surveillance and targeted action.  The deep game is winning “hearts and minds” of other nations.

Without question, Hayden is a great American patriot.  He demonstrates his commitment to America with military service in the Air Force that raises him to a four-star general level.  Nearing the end of his military career, Hayden is chosen to manage two of the most secretive bureaucracies in the world; e.g. the NSA and CIA.  His tenure covers the most critical years of America’s war on terror, beginning with 9/11 and stretching to President Obama’s election as 45th President of the United States.

—-NSA HEADQUARTERS FORT MEADE, MARYLAND—–

As leader of the NSA, Hayden admits that he got Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction wrong.  Hayden notes that the nature of covert intelligence is that it is often built on circumstantial evidence.  In the intelligence gathering business, Hayden notes there is often smoke where there is no fire.

A great deal of circumstantial information suggests Saddam Hussein had an arsenal of WMD, but when America invades Iraq, no WMD is found. NSA is hoodwinked by Hussein’s propaganda.  From other author’s accounts, Hussein appears to have thought the creation of a “WMD fiction” made his rule stronger.

( Equally surprising, NSA’s computer data-gathering systems are found to be antiquated when General Hayden takes the job at NSA.)

Hayden explains that intelligence is difficult to gather.  When he first begins at NSA, there are relatively few Arabic speaking translators working for the agency.  Equally surprising, NSA’s computer data-gathering systems are found to be antiquated.  In fact, they nearly collapse just before Hayden takes over.Hardware is found operationally disjointed with different operating systems using algorithms that did not communicate with each other.  Hayden attacks both deficiencies by hiring more translators and using a combination of outside consultants and inside computer whizzes to revamp NSA’s data gathering and communications system.  Hayden suggests much of NSA’s translator and data-gathering weakness is eliminated but infers, with the advent of cyber war, technology remains a significant challenge.

—————-DATA SERVERS AT TODAY’S NSA—————

Aside from the WMD error, Hayden seems to have left NSA in better condition than when he arrived.  One judges for themselves about how critical the WMD mistake may have been in leading America into Iraq.

——CIA HEADQUARTERS McLean, VIRGINIA——-

The CIA becomes Hayden’s next big intelligence job.  From Hayden’s description, little change seems to have been necessary when he took the reins.  He notes that CIA employees were less regimental than NSA employees but equally committed to their professions.  He notes that CIA employees have all the same family problems of any large employment organization. Taking children to school, or to their sports, or music lessons, is the same for a CIA employee as for any family.  One difference is that CIA employees are often unable to bring their work home and must internalize much of the frustration of their jobs.  And, of course, they have the temptation of being compromised by foreign interests wanting to have actionable intelligence for their own governments.

(There is a whiff of organizational self-interest that suggests preservation of privilege, more than mission, as an employment motivation.)

As one listens to Hayden’s description of NSA and the CIA, it begins to sound like any job in a big organization. However, there is a whiff of organizational self-interest that suggests self-preservation and hubris, more than mission, is an employment motivation.  Hayden did not wish to change the CIA when he took command.  He seems to have succumb to the mythology of an organization that began in WWII, saved America, and could do no wrong.

AUSTRIAN CIA BLACK SITE SHOWING WATERBOARDING AS AN ACCEPTED ENHANCED INTERROGATION METHOD (On his first day of work, Hayden’s principle objective seems to have been to calm troubled feelings in the organization caused by the CIA’s errors of commission and omission.)

On his first day of work, Hayden’s principle objective seems to have been to calm troubled feelings in the organization caused by the CIA’s errors of commission and omission.  The CIA is complicit in the mistaken decision about WMD in Iraq.  The CIA is complicit in black terrorist detention sites, prisoner abuse, and civilian collateral damage from drone attacks.  Further, the CIA fails to catch bad actors in the agency before government secrets are sold to foreign interests.

The CIA is detailed by Hayden as a human organization.  Decisions are made that raise questions of morality and ethics.  Hayden argues that enhanced interrogation does reveal intelligence’ secrets. Hayden attempts to find a middle way between water boarding and sleep deprivation to get intelligence information from suspected terrorists.  However, he goes so far as to suggest water boarding was useful in the interrogation of one terrorist who is uncooperative.  Hayden’s judgement is that prisoner resistance is broken down by enhanced interrogation.  (For those who have been through basic training in the military, that judgement seems plausible.)  Many remain skeptical based on experiments that show the tortured say anything to stop the torture.  Hayden argues that enhanced interrogation is supplemented by an interrogator’s known intelligence to determine whether the tortured is telling the truth.  Hayden clearly comes down on the side of enhanced interrogation techniques for actionable intelligence.

To this reviewer, Hayden deludes himself in believing drone killing, enhanced interrogation, and cutting the head off terrorist organizations will win wars.  Hayden makes an insightful distinction between the “close game” and the “deep game”.  NSA and the CIA may be able to refine their success in a “close game” but they are losing the “deep game”.

PAKISTANI’ DRONE STRIKE OPPOSITION  (To this reviewer, Hayden deludes himself in believing drone killing, enhanced interrogation, and cutting the head off terrorist organizations will win wars.)

America needs to lead by example.  Torturing or killing terrorists does not change the underlying cultural reality that leads other countries to bad leaders and/or totalitarian governments.

This is not to say, Osama bin Laden did not deserve to die but killing him and other Al Qaeda leaders did not stop the terrorist movement; i.e. at best, it delayed the terrorist’s “close game”.  Isis is a spin-off of Al Qaeda.  When al-Baghdadi is killed, unless the underlying discontent of the Middle East is addressed, a new movement will replace al-Baghdadi; with equally ruthless leaders.  The NSA and CIA are necessary organizations but they do not win wars.

ISIS BEHEADING (America cannot remove themselves from the terrorist fight when the terrorist movement chooses to play a “close game”. )

Intelligence is an important tool for understanding other cultures.  It is cultural understanding that will lead to peace; not covert action to kill those who believe something different.

America cannot remove themselves from the terrorist fight when the terrorist movement chooses to play a “close game”.  But, America must protect itself from the delusion that the American way is the only way.  That delusion reduces Americans to the level of terrorists.  Americans need to focus on the “deep game” by being an example and facilitator for democratic freedom and rule of law. Peace can only come through cultural understanding and acceptance.

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AMERICAN TRUTH & INEPTITUDE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History

Written by: Andrew J. Bacevich

Narrated by: Rob Shapiro, Andrew J. Bacevich

ANDREW BACEVICH (AMERICAN HISTORIAN, SERVED IN VIETNAM AND GULF WAR)

To put it mildly, this is a difficult audio book to listen to.  It rings with historic truth while revealing American ineptitude.  Written by a military historian who retired as a Colonel, served in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf and, tragically, lost a son in Iraq in 2007. Bacevich implies that America’s wars, since WWII, have been failures.  (Though he does not mention Korea, one presumes a temporary peace at the 38th parallel is included.)

Bacevich’s latest book focuses on war in the Middle East; a war of attrition and guerrilla warfare that reminds one of Vietnam.  America clearly did not win in Vietnam and is facing a similar loss in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.

MIDDLE EAST (America clearly did not win in Vietnam and is facing a similar loss in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria.)

To Bacevich, post WWII’ wars are the result of failures of diplomacy, military strategy, and military/civilian intelligence.  Bacevich suggests America is in a “no-win” position in the Middle East because of misunderstanding of real-politic and fundamentalist beliefs that fracture nation-state comity.

SADDAM HUSSEIN (1937-2006, FIFTH PRESIDENT OF IRAQ)
BASHAR al-ASSAD (SYRIA, PRESIDENT)

Bacevich argues that failures of diplomacy come from a belief that removing a nation’s leader will change the nature of governments and the people they lead.  He suggests Middle East, history shows that removing leaders only creates chaos and more resistance to American objectives.  (In Vietnam, America tries to overcome the chaos of war with puppet government leaders who focused on self-aggrandizement more than public good.)

AMERICAN INVASION OF IRAQ 2003 (As a military strategy, America enters the Middle East by using overwhelming force to defeat the Iraq army; to apprehend or kill Saddam Hussein, and remove weapons of mass destruction. )

As a military strategy, America enters the Middle East by using overwhelming force to defeat the Iraq army; to apprehend or kill Saddam Hussein, and remove weapons of mass destruction.

HAMID KARZAI (PRESIDENT OF AFGHANISTAN 2004-2014)

In Afghanistan, the military strategy is to remove the Taliban and encourage the election of a government that would interrupt any terrorist organizations that would disrupt American interests.

MUAMMAR MOHAMMED ABU MINYAR QADDAFI (FORMER PRIME MINISTER OF LIBYA)

In Libya, the military strategy is to bomb forces of Muammar Gaddafi; weaken his control, and allow opposition forces to dethrone or try Gaddafi for crimes against humanity.

BASHAR al-ASSAD (SYRIA, PRESIDENT)

In Syria, the military strategy is to bomb ISIS and arm factions opposed to Bashar al-Assad with a goal of Assad’s abdication.  Bacevich suggests these strategies are a waste of American blood and treasure because there is no “end-game”.

ABU BAKR al-BAGHDADI (al-QAEDA LEADER SINCE 2003, ISIS LEADER SINCE MAY 2010)

Removing leaders changes nothing.  Military actions are focused on removing leaders as opposed to addressing native cultural imperatives.  A new leader will rise based on the culture of the country; not the interests of America or some other foreign combatant.

The use of drones may reduce American casualties but remote killing hardens the enemy and compromises military strategy with collateral damage that kills innocents as well as insurgents.  The hardening of the enemy results in more recruits opposing American forces. For these and other reasons (psychological as well as physical), killing by drone is a strategic military and civilian mistake.

AMERICAN DRONE ATTACKS IN PAKISTAN (NOT ONLY TALIBAN ARE KILLED, The use of drones may reduce American casualties but remote killing hardens the enemy and compromises military strategy with collateral damage that kills innocents as well as insurgents. )
NATIONALIZATION OF OIL IN IRAN (MARCH 1951, America wants oil and that oil must come from diplomacy and negotiation, not Middle Eastern regime change. )

What is over-looked is the real-politic of America’s needs and the Middle East’s cultural imperatives.  Middle Easterners want their country to be what they want it to be.  America wants oil and that oil must come from diplomacy and negotiation, not Middle Eastern regime change. Wars founded on military strategic objectives will ultimately fail.

Great Britain could not hold the American colonies because foreign wars were too expensive.  Just as in America’s actions and presumptions in the Middle East, Great Britain fails to address or appreciate colonist’s cultural concerns.

(BOOK WRITTEN BY FORMER NSA AND CIA DIRECTOR, MICHAEL V. HAYDEN)

America’s civilian and military intelligence fails our government leaders.  An obvious military intelligence failure is NSA’s insistence, and the CIA’s concurrence, that there were WMD in Iraq.  Less obvious is America’s failure to recognize every nation in the world wishes to be sovereign; wishes to follow their own traditions, and wishes to grow into their own identity.

AMERICAN CIVIL WAR (America fought its own war to become a democratic republic.  It is not perfect, but most Americans want to live in their own country.)

It may be dis-proportionally unjust for other governments to be other than democratic but who are we to judge or dictate to another sovereign country?  America fought its own war to become a democratic republic.  It is not perfect, but most Americans want to live in their own country.  Diplomacy is Bacevich’s implied solution.  One presumes Bacevich is not implying America should become isolationist.  He suggests America needs diplomacy, founded on cultural understanding of other nations; not war, to get what the U.S.  needs to prosper.

As countries mature, the common needs of humankind will become more evident.  Like a child growing up, countries grow into adulthood.  Some will die in the process; many mistakes will be made, but most will grow into maturity based on their own traditions and adopted foreign influences.

Democracy works for America.  American democracy does not work for everyone.  Countries need to work with each other based on maturity; not infant tantrum.  As nations mature, rages will continue to occur because of internal strife.  However, Bacevich infers international diplomacy is a better alternative to war for survival of the species.

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SO DIFFERENT, SO ALIKE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Richard Nixon: The Life

Written by: John A. Farrell

Narrated by: Dan Woren

JOHN FARRELL (AMERICAN AUTHOR & BIOGRAPHER)

“So different and so alike” is what comes to mind in listening to John Farrell’s biography of Richard Nixon.

RICHARD NIXON (1913-1994, 37TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES)

President Nixon is characterized as thin skinned, vindictive, and dissembling; a description echoed by today’s President.

DONALD TRUMP (45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.)

Nixon and Trump appear both misogynistic, and anti-intellectual.  Both viscerally react to perceived slights.  Both have morally corrupt views of society.  Both make comments reflecting ethnic racism with reprehensible private comments.  Both attack news publishers; particularly the Washington Post and New York Times.

NIXON INAUGURATION 1969
TRUMP INAUGURATION PROTEST

However, Farrell shows Nixon to be clearly unlike Trump.  Nixon understands political and public reality while Trump clings to a skewed business and personal reality.

 

Nixon avoids unfavorable publicity while Trump manufactures it.  Nixon exemplifies international, geo-political, and professional foreign policy while Trump follows an amateurish parochial isolationist foreign policy. Nixon is surreptitiously thuggish, while Trump is outwardly thuggish.  Nixon operates from a perspective of power-hungry self-interest, while Trump operates from “monied” self-interest.

(Nixon operates from a perspective of power-hungry self-interest, while Trump operates from monied self-interest.)
ALGER HISS -ACCUSED SOVIET SPY CONVICTED OF PERJURY IN 1950 (Ironically, Hiss is convicted for a cover-up rather than espionage; just as Nixon is impeached for a cover-up rather than a burglary.) 
JOSEPH McCARTHY (1908-1957, SENATOR THAT STARTED THE COMMUNIST WITCH HUNT THAT DESTROYED INNOCENT AMERICAN’S REPUTATIONS IN THE 1950s)

Farrell recounts Nixon’s early years of overt and benign support of McCarthyism. Nixon justifies his penchant for exposing communist sympathizers with his successful prosecution of Alger Hiss.  (Ironically, Hiss is convicted for a cover-up rather than espionage; just as Nixon is impeached for a cover-up rather than a burglary.)  It remains to be seen but, like Nixon, Trump may be impeached for a cover-up of Russian interference in the American electoral process.

MAO ZEDONG (1893-1976, FOUNDING FATHER OF PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA)
(Trump’s campaign for President is based on the big lie; i.e., the overt support of the poor and middle class while acting to promote the wealthy.)

Nixon’s campaign for President is grounded on an anti-communist platform while pursuing positive relations with the most populated communist country in the world, China. Trump’s campaign for President is based on the big lie; i.e., the overt support of the poor and middle class while acting to promote the wealthy.

HENRY KISSINGER (FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE & NAT. SECURITY ADVISOR FOR NIXON AND FORD, WINNER OF THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE)
DONALD TRUMP AND GLOBAL WARMING (Trump demeans the scientific community by denying global warming and removing America from the Paris Climate Accord.)

Nixon and Trump have little respect for experts.  Nixon demeans Henry Kissinger, a Harvard educated intellectual, who became Nixon’s Secretary of State and a principal in the negotiation for the first SALT agreement with Russia and the opening of Communist China.  Trump demeans the scientific community by denying global warming and removing America from the Paris Climate Accord.  Trump bullys the President of Montenegro who, despite Russian objection, becomes a part of the NATO alliance.  Nixon fires a special prosecutor investigating the Watergate burglary while Trump allegedly contemplates the same action regarding Robert Mueller, the special investigator hired to explore Russian influence in American elections.

On balance, Nixon is shown by Farrell to be much more presidential than Trump but the perspective of history weighs heavily on that assessment.  Nixon, like all human beings, is flawed.  He is not the first President to lie.  He is not the first President to kill innocents.

NAPALM ATTACK VIETNAM

Ending Vietnam at the expense of South Vietnamese is a mixed blessing but Nixon stopped the carnage.  Opening China to the world is a great American accomplishment which history fairly attributes to Nixon and Kissinger.  Only time will tell if Trump is more than what he seems.

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TIME IS A MYSTERY

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Why Time Flies

Written by: Alan Burdick

 Narrated by: George Newbern

ALAN BURDICK (AUTHOR, EDITOR FOR THE NEW YORKER,  In some respects, Burdick’s story is enlightening; in others, time escapes his and an audience’s understanding, )

Time is a mystery.  Alan Burdick speculates on a definition of time in “Why Time Flies”.  In some respects, Burdick’s story is enlightening; in others, time escapes his  audience’s understanding.

ENDORPHINS ARE CHEMICALS IN THE BRAIN THAT FUNCTION AS NEUROTRANSMITTERS (Time appears to be a construct of mind and consciousness, both of which are equally mysterious.)

Time appears to be a construct of mind and consciousness, both of which are equally mysterious.  No one really knows what mind and consciousness are but recent experiments suggest they are a state of being that offers versions of reality; i.e. not objective truth but subjective understanding.  Experiments show that the mind deconstructs what we see and reassembles it to have meaning in an individual’s consciousness.

CAR CRASH (Burdick shows, through recounted experiments, that time does not slow down when we experience traumatic events like a car crash or a bungee jump. )

Burdick shows, through recounted experiments, that time does not slow down when we experience traumatic events like a car crash or a bungee jump.  What our mind does is reconstruct an accident or bungee jump through a consciousness that makes it seem time slows down.  Our consciousness remembers or manufactures events as though they occurred in slow motion; i.e. we remember seeing our car flipping over, the top being crushed, and our effort to use a seat belt to steady our movements.  All of this happens within a minute but we remember it in detail as though a slow-motion camera records the accident.

MIND PATTERNING  (Memories are not precise films of past events. Memories are facts held together by cognitively created stories that make sense in the mind of the person who remembers. Making sense in the mind of one who remembers is not the same as truth. Patterning of remembered facts compels humans to distort memory. The distortion is caused by forgotten details, rationalizations, and prejudices that blend facts to make memories logical in the mind of the one who remembers. The technical expression of difference between memory and truth is partly defined in Tavris’s and Aronson’s book as cognitive-dissonance.)

Burdick notes that time only flows in one direction.  As common experience tells us, we cannot unbreak an egg.  Life begins young and grows older; old begins old and gets older, at least until death. What happens next is another mystery.

Through manipulation of images, we can reverse time but we know it is an illusion.  Various experiments show that time can be slowed down as speculated by Einstein (and later proved by others) but time is never shown to go backward.  That is why travel to the past is considered impossible while travel to the future is, in a limited sense, possible.  As movement approaches the speed of light, time slows down.  A person on earth ages faster than a person in space.  In a way, the person in space travels into a future.  By returning to earth a person from space travels to the future because he/she aged at a slower rate than those left behind.

IN THE MOMENT (Burdick notes that time is always now.  It has no past.  It has no future.  Time is “in the moment”.  Burdick’s recognition is not helpful in understanding time.  Time is never clearly identifiable because it is either becoming a history or a future. )

Burdick notes that time is always now.  It has no past.  It has no future.  Time is “in the moment”.  Burdick’s recognition is not helpful in understanding time.  Time is never clearly identifiable because it is either becoming a history or a future.

How does one define a moment?  It seems to be something between history and future but what is time’s physical marker?  Maybe it is consciousness but no one knows what consciousness is and every person’s consciousness is personal and subjective; not universal.

At best, Burdick’s story only deepens the mystery of time.

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THE DARK SIDE

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Black Edge: Inside Information, Dirty Money, and the Quest to Bring Down the Most Wanted Man on Wall Street

Written by: Sheelah Kolhatkar

Narrated by: Kaleo Griffith

SHEELAH KOLHATKAR (Author,Staff writter at The New Yorker, covers Wall Street, Silcon Valley, and politics)

In “Black Edge” Sheelah Kolhatkar masterfully recounts the dark side of capitalism.  The American stock market is a tremendous source of energy (private money) for entrepreneurial capitalism.  At the same time, a poorly regulated stock market pollutes the capitalist ideal.

CAPITALISM UTOPIAN-ISM (The capitalist ideal’s upside is that people have more freedom.  The downside is unrestricted human nature becomes brutish and unfair.  Some form of governance is needed to provide rule-of-law.  Without rule-of-law, society devolves into an anarchy of individual interests.

Capitalism is an economic and political system for trade and industry that allows individuals rather than a collective determine one’s future.  The capitalist ideal’s upside is that people have more freedom.  The downside is unrestricted human nature becomes brutish and unfair.  Some form of governance is needed to provide rule-of-law.  Without rule-of-law, society devolves into an anarchy of individual interests.  There is no “invisible hand” that guides an economy to equal opportunity; i.e. there is only human nature and its penchant for good and evil.

STOCK MARKET CRASH 1987 ( In the stock market, black edge information is personal notice to private investors of events that effect stock prices.  The information is proprietary and unknown to the public.  The private investor chooses to buy or sell stock before the public knows of an event that will affect stock prices.)

Kolhatkar explains the meaning of black edge information.  She shows how the American stock market becomes a breeding ground for greed.  In the stock market, black edge information is personal notice to private investors of events that affect stock prices.  The information is proprietary and unknown to the public.  The private investor chooses to buy or sell stock before the public knows of an event that will affect stock prices.  Steven A. Cohen develops an organization, SAC Capital, that revolves around gathering proprietary information before it is known by the public.  Cohen becomes one of the richest men in the world by using that information.

STEVEN A. COHEN (AMERICAN INVESTOR, HEDGE FUND MANAGER, BILLIONAIRE, Steven A. Cohen develops an organization, SAC Capital, that revolves around gathering proprietary information before it is known by the public.  Cohen becomes one of the richest men in the world by using that information. )
(Cohen creates a “dog eat dog” organization that hires and fires people based on revenue made or lost on investment.  Individual traders are compelled to violate the law by soliciting black edge information that is not available to the public.  The only criteria for success is money; not family, not friendship, and not society.)

In one sense, this seems a “no harm, no foul” entrepreneurial benefit in capitalist society.  Cohen pays big money for traders that can provide him inside information.  People are employed and well compensated for their effort.

However, Kolhatkar infers there is harm, and it is foul.  It breeds an organizational philosophy of abuse.  Cohen creates a “dog eat dog” organization that hires and fires people based on revenue made or lost on investment.  Individual traders are compelled to violate the law by soliciting black edge information that is not available to the public.  The only criteria for success is money; not family, not friendship, and not society.

One may argue, so what?  Cohen becomes a rich man and is known as a benefactor to charities based on his accumulated wealth.  Some of the traders that worked for Cohen became multimillionaires.  Similar arguments can be made for the Koch brothers.  Where is the harm?  Where is the foul?

CHARLES KOCH (AGE 79 Where is the harm?  Where is the foul? )
DAVID KOCH (AGE 74 Where is the harm?  Where is the foul? )

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

( Cohen focuses on making money because it offers power and prestige.  The gap between rich and poor widens because of Cohen’s philosophy of life.  In the end, Cohen is not found guilty of insider trading.)

The harm is somewhat inchoate but care for others is missing in Kolhatkar’s story.  Lives were ruined by Cohen; i.e. some of his closest associates are abandoned, traders operating as information gophers break the law, and Cohen’s personal life falls apart.  He is divorced by his first wife.  Cohen focuses on making money because it offers power and prestige.  The gap between rich and poor widens because of Cohen’s philosophy of life.  In the end, Cohen is found not guilty of insider trading but he leaves a trail of human destruction.

DONALD TRUMP (45TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.The “Get out of my way” philosophy of Cohen and Trump are cut from the same cloth.  The difference is–one is more financially successful than the other.  )

The story of Steven Cohen is the story of a Trump presidency in the United States.  America loses its way when capitalism is only seen through the prism of wealth.  The “Get out of my way” philosophy of Cohen and Trump are cut from the same cloth.  The difference is–one is more financially successful than the other.

Capitalism is not the problem in America.  It is the failure of the S.E.C., the FBI, Presidents, and congressional legislators to do their job.  The purpose of the American government is to protect the public through rule-of-law.  Every day, we see a President denying immigrants the chance of becoming a part of an American Dream that made and makes America great. We see an Education Secretary intent on dismantling our public education system.  We see a congressional and departmental effort to dismantle health care and welfare.  We see Americans being discriminated against because of their sex, race, and religion.

GOVERNMENT (Capitalism is not the problem in America.  It is the failure of the S.E.C., the FBI, the President, and congressional legislators to do their job.  The purpose of the American government is to protect the public through rule-of-law.)
CHECKS AND BALANCES (The checks and balances of the American government are founded on that truth.  When the American government fails to exercise its mandate for the health, education, and welfare of the nation, it diminishes capitalism.)

Human nature is not self-regulating.  Unregulated human nature is brutish.  The checks and balances of the American government are founded on that truth.  When the American government fails to exercise its mandate for the health, education, and welfare of the nation, it diminishes capitalism.  It diminishes a way of life cherished by most Americans.  People like Steven Cohen and Donald Trump are guilty of being human and un-ruled.

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FISH ROTS FROM THE HEAD

Audio-book Review
By Chet Yarbrough

(Blog:awalkingdelight)
Website: chetyarbrough.com

Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe, 1944-1956

Written by: Anne Applebaum

Narrated by: Cassandra Campbell

ANNE APPLEBAUM (Author, also wrote “Gulag” about Russian Intern camps.)

Anne Applebaum offers historical perspective about the Iron Curtain and how it separated the west from Russia and set the table for the U.S.S.R.  Her story is capsulized by an ancient Turkish saying— “Fish rots from the head”.  Her story implies a political lesson for the 21st century.

BERTRAND ARTHUR WILLIAM RUSSELL (1872-1970 DIED AT AGE 97,  “War does not determine who is right – only who is left”.  )

As Bertrand Russell notes: “War does not determine who is right – only who is left”.  There are four renowned leaders and heroes at the end of WWII; e.g. Winston Churchill, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, and yes, Joseph Stalin.  Churchill is a hero because he recognized the early threat of Nazi Germany and demanded intervention at the time of the Polish invasion.  Roosevelt is a hero because he cleverly supported Churchill when many leaders in America refused to believe in Hitler’s threat to the world.  Truman is a hero because he ended the war with Japan without jeopardizing thousands of American troops with an invasion of the Japanese archipelago.  And finally, Stalin is a hero for resisting and defeating Hitler’s armies in Europe when America needs time to prepare for war.

WINSTON CHURCHILL (1874-1965)_
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT (1882-1945, 32ND PRES. OF U.S.,1933-1945)
HARRY TRUMAN (1884-1972,
JOSEPH STALIN (1878-1953)

Applebaum reflects on the aftermath of WWII to reveal the reality of Russell’s note about those who are left after war’s end. Countless numbers (reaching an estimated 50 to 80 million) of Allied–Axis military and civilian men, women, and children were dead.  Some were killed from famine and disease; others from bullets, bayonets, and crematoriums.

ADOLPH HITLER (1889-1945, One can argue like a sibling with a brother or sister–“he started it”, but no one is absolved from guilt for murdered innocents. )

Each of the four leaders and heroes of WWII carry a measure of blame for war’s human consequence.  One can argue like a sibling with a brother or sister–“he (meaning Hitler) started it”, but no one is absolved from guilt for murdered innocents.  Applebaum reflects on a singular consequence of the war in the rise and fall of an Iron Curtain, a curtain that separates Eastern Europe from the west.

KARL MARX (BORN TRIER, GERMANY 1818-DIED LONDON, ENGLAND 1883)

Communism is and always has been a dead or dying form of governance.  The idea of collective comity has been tried in various forms since the beginning of recorded history.  It has never worked as a social or political construct as theorized by Karl Marx, or bastardized before and after Das Kapital’s publication.  Each derivation of an economic, social, and political collective has failed or is failing.  From the monumental failure of the U.S.S.R., to Kibbutz’s in Israel, to collectivist fringe groups in history, human nature has destroyed collective comity.

THE IRON CURTAIN

Applebaum’s “Iron Curtain” explains how Stalin cleverly bastardized communism to create a world power, but in that bastardization Stalin became the greatest mass murderer in history.  Lenin is the first to take advantage of Marx’s theory but Lenin recognized that Marx’s dialectic of human economic and political evolution would not work without force.

After Lenin’s death, Stalin eliminates rivals who do not understand the necessity of top-down management for Russia’s transition from monarchy to communism.  The Russian nation’s history as a monarchy made Stalin’s style of management fertile ground for a collectivist hegemon.

CATHERINE THE GREAT RELUCTANTLY ACCEPTS THE LEGACY OF SERFDOM BECAUSE OF THE POWER OF THE ARISTOCRACY

(Though Catherine the Great talked of liberalizing Russia, she recognized centralized power was the only way of avoiding a civil war between serfs and a Russian aristocracy.)  Lenin’s, and then Stalin’s, dangling of collectivism hoodwinks serfs into thinking they can escape their historic servitude.

It is Stalin that manages to defeat Hitler in Europe.  Applebaum explains how Stalin takes advantage of the end of WWII to expand Russia by creating satellite countries to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

RUSSIAN ARMY WWII (No other leader had the manpower to defeat Nazi advances in Eastern Europe.  Unquestionably, Stalin could not have succeeded without material support from the West but it took human beings to fight the Nazi advances in the early years of the war.)

No other leader had the manpower to defeat Nazi advances in Eastern Europe.  Unquestionably, Stalin could not have succeeded without material support from the West but it took human beings to fight the Nazi advances in the early years of the war.  Britain is consumed by their own defense. Most of Eastern Europe, and France is defeated by the Nazis, and America needs time to prepare the military for war.  Only Stalin can marshal the human force needed to defeat Germany in Eastern Europe.  With an iron hand, no moral conscience, personal paranoia, and Russia’s history of totalitarian command, Stalin creates a totalitarian hegemon that stalls and then defeats Nazi occupation of Eastern Europe.  In one sense, Stalin liberates Eastern Europe; in another, he destroys their independence and freedom.

RUSSIAN TRAINED KGB IN WWII (Applebaum notes that Stalin focuses on training a cadre of secret agents to infiltrate the governments of future Soviet satellites.)

Stalin approaches his ambition for totalitarian rule systematically.  At the end of the war, Applebaum notes that Stalin focuses on training a cadre of secret agents to infiltrate the governments of future Soviet satellites.  He coops religion by replacing devout church leaders with communist sympathizers.  Stalin uses a combination of threat, violence, and education to subvert Polish, Hungarian, and Czechoslovakian leaders.  He does the same with clandestine freedom fighting organizations that try to resist Soviet occupation.

The immediate impact of Stalin’s plan is unseen because of time needed to train a secret service and infiltrate non-communist factions.  Within two years of the war’s end, the table is set for a planned economy based on artificially manufactured five-year plans that ignore reality but create a mythological sense of progress.

RUSSIAN GULAG (A mythological sense of progress reinforced by slave labor camps that continued after the end of WWII.)  DM ORIGINALS 31/05/2003 (P43) 1933
STALIN SLAVE LABOR CAMP

With the death of Stalin, the myth of progress is exposed.  The result is a transition of former communist countries to capitalist wannabes. For the U.S.S.R., centralized control and top-down management remain, but self-interest is unleashed.  There is a difference from American capitalist self-interest.  Russian self-interest is limited because it is based on who is favored by leaders in government.

One might argue that is true in America but the truth is not that black or white.  Subsidization is a qualified difference but explanation is tied to an extended review of the meaning of democracy in America.

VLADIMIR PUTIN (PRESIDENT OF RUSSIA, Putin notes in a “60 Minutes” interview that the thing he most admires in America is its ability to innovate.  With centralized control and top-down management Russia is unlikely to return to the hegemon it became after WWII.)

Putin notes in a “60 Minutes” interview that the thing he most admires in America is its ability to innovate.  With centralized control and top-down management Russia is unlikely to return to the hegemon it became after WWII.  Russia will need to break from its history to change.  Maybe, with education, that can happen, but it will be a long road.  In a totalitarian state when “fish rots at the head”, its putrification spreads to all levels of society.

Applebaum offers insight to Stalinist Russia and the barriers modern Russia must overcome to return to the status of world power.  Bottom-up management is a key component of economic and political strength in modern times.  It explains why China is a burgeoning world power and why America, contrary to Trump’s platform, remains great.

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