Holger Danske

Holger Danske

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    Wednesday
    Apr162014

    CrossFit 2014-04-16

    Nukes

    • 8 minutes
      • 1000m run
      • 165# max deadlifts
    • 10 minutes
      • 1200m run
      • 115# max power cleans
    • 12 minutes
      • 1200m run
      • 65# max OHS

    Times and Reps 5:27/10, 7:27/9, 7:18/12

    Wednesday
    Apr162014

    The Long View: If the July 20 Plot had Succeeded.....

    More alternative history from John. Often, the main thrust of his thinking was that the world could have been very much worse than it was, even though it was frequently awful. Hitler may have been a bad leader, but Himmler would have probably been worse....

    If the July 20 Plot Had Succeeded.....

    On July 20, 1944, Lieutenant Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler by placing a bomb in the conference room at the East Prussia command center where Hitler was holding a meeting. The bomb went off and von Stauffenberg telephoned to his confederates in Berlin that Hitler had been killed. The conspirators had planned to stage a coup, using elements of the skeletal Home Army in Germany, perhaps supported by some of the generals on the Western Front. However, the would-be putschists in Berlin dithered for several hours, trying to get confirmation that Hitler was really dead. They did not seize the government ministries, or the telephone exchanges, or even the radio stations. When Goebbels was able to confirm that Hitler was alive and convince the army units in Berlin of this fact, the coup collapsed in short order. Apparently, all that saved Hitler's life was the absent-minded placement by his adjutant of the bomb from one side of a wooden table support to the other. Suppose the bomb had not been moved, and Hitler had been killed?

    The conspirators had some foggy notion that they might be able to surrender to the Allies in the west, or at least negotiate a withdrawal to Germany's western border, while continuing to fight defensive battles in the east. Certainly they had gone much further in sounding out the western commanders about their attitude to a coup, though in some ways the most forceful member of the anti-Hitler network involved in the assassination attempt was Major General Henning von Tresckow of Army Group Center on the Eastern Front. (They had also attempted covert negotiations with both the Anglo-Americans and the Russians. They managed to talk to unofficial representatives of both sides, but without results.)

    Objectively speaking, something like this might have been possible. The military position of Germany in July 1944 was grim. At the beginning of the month, the Russians had crossed the pre-war eastern border of Poland. Hitler was having that conference in East Prussia because the Russians were only about 60 klicks from the province. In the west, the Anglo-Americans were breaking out of Normandy, and Paris would fall in August. Still, the Germans were far from beaten. Armaments production, for instance, peaked in July. In the months before Germany finally surrendered, they would stabilize the situation more than once, and even conduct some notable offensives. In other words, they still had something to bargain with, and both sides knew it.

    ...

    Wednesday
    Apr162014

    CrossFit 2014-04-15

    Weighted pullups

    5-5-3-3-3-1-1-1-1

    10-15-20-25-30K-35K-40K-45K-50#K

    K for kipping

    Tuesday
    Apr152014

    CrossFit 2014-04-14

    Rowing and pushups

    10 rounds

    • 1 minute row for max Calories
    • 15 sec transition
    • 30 sec max pushups
    • 15 sec transition

    Total Calories 135

    Total pushups 72

    Monday
    Apr142014

    Bryan Caplan on the Signaling Theory of College

    Bryan Caplan is a popular blogger and economist at George Mason University. Caplan was recently interviewed on EconTalk about the value of a college education. Short version: a college education doesn't have much intrinsic value. I'm simplifying a bit, but only a bit. Caplan argues that higher education is more important for sorting out the smart and hard-working from the rest than in teaching anything specific.  Of course, I might very well say that. I skipped out on grad school and went into the workforce precisely because I was convinced that more school wouldn't make me any smarter, or teach me anything useful. Of course, I also hated academia.

    The signaling theory of education is nothing new to me. I've certainly pooh-poohed American higher education on multiple occasions here. However, it is easy to go too far. Caplan is too careful to say one learns nothing in college. What he is saying is that overall, and for the most part, specific skills are less important than intelligence, the capacity to work hard, and a willingness to play by the rules. These are the things college selects for. These are also correlates of success in America and similar societies.

    On the other hand, I can certainly point you to plenty of disgruntled college graduates who cannot readily find work because they have the wrong degree. So there is a sense in which college functions in this signalling fashion that Caplan posits, but there is another sense in which employers, particularly in the much-vaunted STEM fields, really do expect college graduates to know things, very specific things. Personal experience suggests to me that this tendency is perhaps somewhat stronger than necessary to ensure competence, but one needs to understand the difference between ability and skill, or potentia and actualia. Since Caplan is an economist, perhaps he can look at the opportunity cost of hiring an able but unskilled graduate.

    [Caplan] The human capital story says that you go to school; they actually teach you a bunch of useful jobs skills; you then finish and the labor market rewards you because you are now able to do more stuff. The signaling model says, no, no, no, no; that's not what's going on. What's going on is that people go to school; they don't actually learn a lot of useful stuff; however, the whole educational process filters out the people who wouldn't have been very good workers. So people who are lower intelligence, lower in work ethic, lower in conformity--those people tend to not do very well in school. They drop out. They get bad grades. And that's why the labor market cares. It's not that the school actually transforms you to a good worker from a bad worker. It's that the schooling, the school puts a little sticker on your head--you know, Grade A student, Grade B student, Grade C student.

    ...

    [Interviewer] I have a natural skepticism about it. And I think a lot of labor economists do as well. And the reason is that it's an extremely expensive signal. So, you are saying, for 4 years, I give up the chance to work; I pay this tuition, whether it's $5000 or $10,000, or $30,000, or $40,000--at a private university. And for that enormous amount of money, I prove that I am a good worker and I get a sticker on my head. Wouldn't there be an easier, cheaper way to get the sticker? If all it's doing is measuring ability, this 4-year slog that's extremely expensive? That's the best way that people have come up with to get the sticker?

    ...

    [Caplan] Yes, it's an arms race. And the fact, if it is a fact, the private return is high is really a very bad argument for pouring more money on. Now, the other point, as we were saying, the return that you should be looking at in terms of this argument of not being able to borrow against your future earnings--what you are looking at is return for the marginal people who are just on the edge of going or not going. And as we've seen, the return for those people is actually not, is actually quite mediocre. And then finally if you adjust for ability and everything else, really I would say that once you appreciate signaling you realize that, so we have subsidized education way past the point of [?] returns. So by my calculations, actually, the social return to education is now quite negative. And it would be a much better policy to drastically scale it back, so rather than encouraging more people to go, I think it's better to discourage them from going or at least to encourage them less. So in fact--so, the biggest policy implication that's going to come out of my book is we just have way too much education. I call this the white elephant in the room. There are way too many people going to school, maybe not from their own selfish point of view, but certainly from a social point of view to go and pour more money on this really is just throwing gasoline on the fire. And we need to do less of it.

    h/t DarwinCatholic

    Thursday
    Apr102014

    The Long View: The World Hitler Never Made

    Alternative history, which gets the unusual name allohistory in this book review, has been one of my favorite genres. When done well, you tend to learn a lot of real history by proxy, since good alt history is based on real events. One can never invent stories near so wild as what actually happened.

    The book John reviews here is a survey of alternative histories about the Third Reich. Some are about a world in which the Nazis never were, and some are about a world in which the Nazis triumphed. None of the stories are actually pro-Nazi. [John managed to find a partial example the author missed] However, the kind of stories we tell about the Nazis have changed over the years. The most vicious and diabolical portrayals came from the immediate post-war years. As time has passed, the Third Reich began to be portrayed as something that was the more banal evil of later Communism, gray, and bureaucratically neglectful. In the end, Hitler has become a joke, Godwin's Law non-withstanding.

    We can't take Hitler seriouisly anymore

    The World Hitler Never Made
    By Gavriel D. Rosenfeld
    Cambridge University Press, 2005
    524 Pages, US$19.80
    ISBN 0-521-84706-0
     
    Every generation gets the space invaders it deserves. In H. G. Wells's day, they were aggressive railroad trestles armed with late Industrial Revolution death rays and poison gas. By the 1950s, they were subversive vegetable bodysnatchers that tried to appear 200% American. Now comes Gavriel Rosenfeld, a historian at Fairfield University who specializes in the postwar reception of the Third Reich, to propose that every generation gets the alternative Hitler it deserves. We can learn quite a lot about how Western society has dealt with the memory of the Nazi regime, he suggests, by examining the speculations that have appeared over the years about how that stretch of history might have been different. Most important, by noting how these speculations have changed, we can make some useful inferences about the working of historical memory and about the political cultures of the several nations in which these speculations have appeared.
    The book covers four classes of hypotheticals: Hitler wins; Hitler loses but escapes; Hitler is deleted from history; and hypothetical Holocausts (both Holocausts avoided and Holocausts that were more complete). According to the cumulative table of sources in the Appendix, this survey covers 116 works, including novels, short stories, essays, films, television productions, and some academic histories. The works that are discussed are of very variable quality. They range from novels of great merit, such as George Steiner's "The Portage to San Cristobal" and Len Deighton's "SS-GB," to the unfortunately never-to-be-forgotten film, "They Saved Hitler's Brain." (There is an image from that film on the book's dustjacket: they saved not only the brain but the whole head, cowlick and all.) Alternate history (or alternative history, or uchronie: the author prefers "allohistory") has been a recognized genre for some time. It will be easy for attentive readers to point to a few examples the author overlooked, but this survey is remarkably comprehensive.
    Allohistorical stories involving Nazi Germany are chiefly an Anglo-American phenomenon, but about 15% of the author's sources are German or Austrian. British and American stories (including a few novels) about the consequences of a German victory began to appear even before the Second World War began. After the war, speculation about that topic took a rest. Such works as did appear, such as Noel Coward's well-received 1947 play about Britain under German occupation, "Peace in Our Time," and John W. Wall's novel "The Sound of His Horn," portrayed Germans as diabolical and their victims as heroes. In comic books and pulp magazines, however, there were numerous stories about how Hitler had escaped and the terrible things that would happen to him when he was caught. In the late fifties and early 1960s, interest revived in allohistory about Nazi victory, either in terms of global conquest or the occupation of Great Britain. Some writers depicted the victims as collaborators. It is to this period that we owe what perhaps remains the best-known "Hitler Wins" novel, Philip Dick's The Man in the High Castle, as well as some notable British teleplays, such as Giles Cooper's "The Other Man."
    ...

    Thursday
    Apr102014

    CrossFit 2014-04-09

    In a team of three complete:

    • 800m run with 3 empty barbells [33#]
    • 60 pullups
    • 90 front squats [95#]
    • 60 handstand pushups
    • 90 deadlifts [95#]
    • 800m run with 3 empty barbells

    Time 31:59

    Wednesday
    Apr092014

    The Long View: If Germany Had Won World I.....

    Given John's penchant for cyclical models of history, you shouldn't be surprised to hear that if Germany had won World War I, not much would have changed. We like to think of battles and wars as momentous things, and sometimes they are, but the outcome of the twentieth century was overdetermined, at least according to Spengler and Toynbee.

    By way of proof, consider this: Spengler started writing the Decline of the West in 1911, and finished it in 1914. Weimar culture, famed for its decadence and defeatism, started before the war too. Its analogues started in England, France, and the United States about the same time.

    Here is John's boldest claim:

    I would go so far as to say this: something very like the Nazi Party would still have come to power in Germany, even if that country had won the First World War. I realize that this assertion runs counter to the historiography of most of this century, but the conclusion is inescapable. Politics is a part of culture, and the Nazis represented a kind of politics which was integral with Weimar culture. Salvador Dali once said, perhaps ironically, that he approved of the Nazi Party because they represented the surrealists come to power. The connection is deep, as with the Nazi affinity for the modernist post-rationalism of the philosopher Heidigger, and also superficial, in the styles the party promoted. The Nuremberg Rallies, for instance, were masterpieces of Art Deco stagecraft, particularly Albert Speer's "cathedral of ice" effect, created with the use of searchlights. As a young hopeful in Vienna, Hitler once passed up the chance to work as a theatrical set designer because he was too shy to go to the interview. But whether he knew it or not, that is what he became. People with no fascist inclinations at all love to watch film footage produced by the Nazis, for the simple reason that it is very good cinema: it comes from the same artistic culture which gave us METROPOLIS and THE BLUE ANGEL. The Weimar Republic and the Third Reich formed a historical unit, one whose advent was not dependent on the accident of who won the First World War.

    Leni Riefenstahl deserves mention here too. A Triumph of the Will was a masterpiece of a movie, and continues to be influential today, although no one would be so foolish as to admit it influenced them. The Nazis were stylish and popular, a reflection of the spirit of the times.

    John gets even more contrary towards the end. He suggests that despite the colossal waste and horror of the Great War, the way it turned out may have been better than some of the likely alternatives. This is worth considering.

    If Germany Had Won World War I.....

    In a way, this is a more interesting hypothesis than the more commonly asked question about what the world would be like if the Germans had won World War II. Several historians have noted that both world wars should really be considered a single conflict with a long armistice in the middle. If this viewpoint is valid, then the official outcome of the first phase of this conflict may have been important for reasons other than those usually cited.

    As a preliminary matter, we should note that the actual outcome of the First World War was a near thing, a far nearer thing than was the outcome of World War II after 1941. While it is true that the United States entered the war on the allied side in 1917, thus providing vast new potential sources of men and material, it is also true that Germany had knocked Russia out of the war at about the same time. This gave the Germans access to the resources of Eastern Europe and freed their troops for deployment to the West. The German Spring Offensive of 1918 actually succeeded in rupturing the Allied line at a point where the Allies had no significant reserves. (At about this time, British Prime Minister Lloyd George was heard to remark, "We are going to lose this war." He began to create a record which would shift the blame to others.) The British Summer Offensive of the same year similarly breached the German lines, but did a much better job of exploiting the breakthrough than the Germans had done a few months earlier. General Ludendorff panicked and demanded that the government seek an armistice. The German army did succeed in containing the Allied breakthrough, but meanwhile the German diplomats had opened tentative armistice discussions with the United States. Given U.S. President Wilson's penchant for diplomacy by press-release, the discussions could not be broken off even though the German military situation was no longer critical. While the Germans were not militarily defeated, or even economically desperate, the government and general public saw no prospect of winning. Presented with the possibility of negotiating a settlement, their willingness to continue the conflict simply dissolved.

     

     

    ...

    Wednesday
    Apr092014

    CrossFit 2014-04-08

    50 foot farmers carry max load

    Back squats 3-3-3-3-3

    • Load 135-155-160-160-160#
    Monday
    Apr072014

    The Long View: Religion and the Racist Right

    Despite John's opening sentence, millenarianism is still faintly embarrassing to almost everyone. At least that is Richard Landes contention. As best I know, John was acquainted with Richard, since John was affiliated with the Center for Millennial Studies, of which Richard is the Director. I have found millennialism fun to talk about, because lots of people are interested in the subject, but no one seems willing to discuss it. 

    This particular review is about a small movement that looms large in the elite consciousness of America, despite it's small size. What influence it has is probably due to media attention, rather than anything the Christian Identity Movement has been able to accomplish. The book featured here is 20 years old. I have no idea whether this particular movement even exists any longer. Even if it doesn't, these things take on a life of their own and tend to survive the destruction of any particular embodiment. Nonetheless, I would wager there are about as many adherents to Vernor Vinge's Singularity as there ever were to CIM.

    CIM pushes all the right buttons, and I very much mean the right, to get lots of media attention. And official attention, as when the Department of Homeland Security in 2009 issued a report detailing the risks of right-wing extremism among returning veterans. Veterans' groups understandably protested this, but after all one of the early challenges to Federal authority in the United States came from Revolutionary War veterans.

    A likelier home for this kind of discontent today is the sovereign citizen movement, which while it can sometimes result in armed standoffs, tends to dissipate energies in futile court battles. John makes the very good point here that that cultic milieu from which the Christian Identity Movement originated is still with us, and it crosses right and left with ease. 9-11 Truthers, the Chemtrail folks, and Earth First share some of the same ideas with the sovereign citizens, birthers, and militia groups.

    Religion and the Racist Right:
    The Origins of the Christian Identity Movement

    by Michael Barkun
    The University of North Carolina Press, 1994
    290 pp., $39.95 cloth, $15.95 paper
    ISBN 0-8078-4451-9

    Apocalypse Stew

    There was a time, not too long back, when millenarianism was something you heard about only in anthropology courses. The notion that large groups of people would organize in preparation for the end of the age, either to flee from the catastrophes they anticipated or to create some catastrophes of their own, seemed to be faintly embarrassing to sociologists and political scientists. It was certainly off the radar screen of the mass media. Then, in the space of few months, we were presented with the spectacle of the apocalyptic Branch Davidian community immolating itself, of Aum Shin Rikyo gassing Japanese subway riders in the first phase of an intended high-tech coup, and of the many peculiar groups that came to light after the bombing of the Oklahoma City Federal Building. In reality, of course, the violent Pursuit of the Millennium (to the use the title of the classic study by Norman Cohn of "revolutionary millenarianism") has been common throughout history, from Han Dynasty China to Cromwell's England. Michael Barkun, a political scientist at the University of Syracuse, has been one of the leading students of American millenarianism for many years. This study of the Christian Identity Movement provides a detailed history and analysis of a religious ideology that has become one of the characteristic features of today's violent radical Right.

    The Christian Identity Movement has no fixed orthodoxy or central organization; we will discuss the constellation of ideas that constitute Identity in a moment. The movement finds institutional embodiment in little congregations with names like "The Church of Jesus Christ Christian" and "The Church of Israel," or in political groups (sometimes involved in terrorist activities) such as the Aryan Nations and the Order. The estimates of the number of Identity believers vary widely. There are certainly less than 100,000 and probably less than 50,000. (Official membership in Identity churches may be as low as 2,500.) The greatest concentration of Identity believers is the Pacific Northwest. They can be found elsewhere, however. Until the intervention of federal authorities in 1985, they maintained a formidable armed community in Arkansas called the Covenant, Sword and Arm of the Lord, or CSA. (Am I the only one to note that these initials have a Civil War flavor?) Also, David Duke, a former Klansman who ran with some success for various state offices in Louisiana from the late 1970s to the early 1990s, has extensive Identity connections.

    ...