American aircraft were never permitted to cross the Chinese or Russian boundary, even in hot pursuit

Sunday, March 7th, 2021

There were only two new developments in the Korean War, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), the general use of jet aircraft, and the widespread use of rotary-wing craft for evacuation, transport, and reconnaisance:

In the first days of the war, American Far East Air Force had knocked down the antiquated YAK-9 and YAK-15 fighters of North Korea. It was not until 31 October 1950 that a new phase of air warfare began.

On that date Russian-built MIG-15 jet fighters appeared in strength over North Korea. They raised havoc with the lumbering B-29′s bombing the Yalu bridges, and threw a fright into American pilots flying World War II F-51′s and Corsairs. On 8 November an American F-80 shot down the first MIG-15, but the Air Force was forced to rush its newest and best fighters, the F-86 Sabrejets, to the Far East.

[...]

The Communist aircraft, although field after field was constructed in North Korea, and as quickly bombed out, never were based south of the Yalu. They remained, silvery in plain sight on broad airdromes just north of the river, in privileged sanctuary, coming now and again across the river to engage patrolling American aircraft above the Valley of the Yalu — the famous MIG Alley.

American aircraft were never permitted to cross the Chinese or Russian boundary, even in hot pursuit.

Don’t do anything

Saturday, March 6th, 2021

The MacGuffin in Glory Road is the Egg of the Phoenix, a cybernetic record of the experiences of two hundred and three “emperors” and “empresses,” most of whom “ruled” all the known universes — and serves as an excuse for Heinlein to share his thoughts on politics:

For the one thing that stood out as this empirical way of running an empire grew up was that the answer to most problems was: Don’t do anything. Always King Log, never King Stork — “Live and let live.” “Let well enough alone.” “Time is the best physician.” “Let sleeping dogs lie.” “Leave them alone and they’ll come home, wagging their tails behind them.” Even positive edicts of the Imperium were usually negative in form: Thou Shalt Not Blow Up Thy Neighbors’ Planet. (Blow up your own if you wish.) Hands off the guardians of the Gates. Don’t demand justice, you too will be judged.

Above all, don’t put serious problems to a popular vote.

Our hero meets a comparative culturologist from one of the many other inhabited planets:

But tell me: How were things when you left? Especially, how is the United States getting along with its Noble Experiment?”

“ ‘Noble Experiment’?” I had to think; Prohibition was gone before I was born. “Oh, that was repealed.”

“Really? I must go back for a field trip. What have you now? A king? I could see that your country was headed that way but I did not expect it so soon.”

“Oh, no,” I said. “I was talking about Prohibition.”

“Oh, that. Symptomatic but not basic. I was speaking of the amusing notion of chatter rule. ‘Democracy.’ A curious delusion — as if adding zeros could produce a sum. But it was tried in your tribal land on a mammoth scale. Before you were born, no doubt. I thought you meant that even the corpse had been swept away.” He smiled. “Then they still have elections and all that?”

One of our hero’s companions later adds:

“Except that he sees only the surface. Democracy can’t work. Mathematicians, peasants, and animals, that’s all there is — so democracy, a theory based on the assumption that mathematicians and peasants are equal, can never work. Wisdom is not additive; its maximum is that of the wisest man in a given group.

“But a democratic form of government is okay, as long as it doesn’t work. Any social organization does well enough if it isn’t rigid. The framework doesn’t matter as long as there is enough looseness to permit that one man in a multitude to display his genius. Most so-called social scientists seem to think that organization is everything. It is almost nothing — except when it is a straitjacket. It is the incidence of heroes that counts, not the pattern of zeros.”

He added, “Your country has a system free enough to let its heroes work at their trade. It should last a long time — unless its looseness is destroyed from inside.”

[...]

“I could never be a democrat at heart. To claim to ‘respect’ and even to ‘love’ the great mass with their yaps at one end and smelly feet at the other requires the fatuous, uncritical, saccharine, blind, sentimental slobbishness found in some nursery supervisors, most spaniel dogs, and all missionaries. It isn’t a political system, it’s a disease. But be of good cheer; your American politicians are immune to this disease…and your customs allow the non-zero elbow room.

Reiteration, argument, lies, confusion, and the application of force and fear

Friday, March 5th, 2021

In Prisoner of War Camp 5, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), the Chinese tried to “reeducate” their captives:

The methods were much the same as those of all Communist reeducation — reiteration, argument, lies, confusion, and the application of force and fear with varying degrees of subtlety.

It came to be called brainwashing, but it was nothing new. The Soviets had employed the same means against men they took at Stalingrad, with about the same degree of success.

Men behind wire are always afraid of their captors. Only by tight inner discipline and complete cohesion can they hope to resist completely what their captors will do to them. Inevitably, when pressured, some men collaborate.

Turks were asked to collaborate. They did not, because each Turk was firm in what he believed, and he knew implicitly that his group — the Turks — would never permit any individual lapses. A Turk who aided the Chinese was signing his own death warrant — and knew it.

There was no such cohesion to the body of Americans within the wire. In any group of human beings, of whatever nationality, there are criminals, fools, and potential traitors. American policy within the wire remained disapproving of such — but tolerant.

A certain number of Americans did criminal acts, against their own. A very few committed treason. A very few resisted fanatically.

The great majority, although disorganized, confused, and completely uninstructed as to how to behave in this new situation in which they were asked to sign petitions and state anticapitalist opinions, resisted passively. They did not condone collaboration, though they made few moves to stamp it out, as did the Turks. They preferred to shun it.

The Chinese educators were not diabolically clever; at times they were incredibly stupid. But they had the prisoners in their power, and they had them continually off balance. The POW’s never understood the Communists and never caught up with them.

As Charles Schlichter reported, almost all POW’s were under the misapprehension that they might be tortured at any time. They were threatened with it, though it did not materialize.

Day after day, the POW’s attended forced classes. They sat on hard wooden benches for six to eight hours a day, while Chinese lecturers hammered at them, over and over, about Okies, Roman Catholics, and Negroes in America, that all officials of the Republic were rich men, that all congressmen were college-trained, and that not one workingman had any say in the Republic’s affairs, in American accents ranging from that of the deep South to Brooklyn.

The POW’s were never excused from class for any reason. Men fainted, and were left where they lay. There was no excuse to visit latrines, even for men with dysentery. These fouled themselves, and were forced by guard to continue sitting.

The Chinese instructors found the POW’s knew almost nothing of civics or the mechanics of American government, and of this they made big play. The fact that American soldiers knew so little, they said, proved that the ruling interests wanted it so.

Americans who visit South Africa tell them they’re offended

Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Donald G. McNeil Jr. shares his response to the Daily Beast‘s allegations of racist behavior — which ended with his departure from the New York Times after decades there:

1. Yes, I did use the word, in this context: A student asked me if I thought her high school’s administration was right to suspend a classmate of hers for using the word in a video she’d made in eighth grade. I said “Did she actually call someone a “offending word”? Or was she singing a rap song or quoting a book title or something?” When the student explained that it was the student, who was white and Jewish, sitting with a black friend and the two were jokingly insulting each other by calling each other offensive names for a black person and a Jew, I said “She was suspended for that? Two years later? No, I don’t think suspension was warranted. Somebody should have talked to her, but any school administrator should know that 12-year-olds say dumb things. It’s part of growing up.”

2. I was never asked if I believed in white privilege. As someone who lived in South Africa in the 1990’s and has reported in Africa almost every year since, I have a clearer idea than most Americans of white privilege. I was asked if I believed in systemic racism. I answered words to the effect of: “Yeah, of course, but tell me which system we’re talking about. The U.S. military? The L.A.P.D.? The New York Times? They’re all different.

3. The question about blackface was part of a discussion of cultural appropriation. The students felt that it was never, ever appropriate for any white person to adopt anything from another culture — not clothes, not music, not anything. I counter-argued that all cultures grow by adopting from others. I gave examples — gunpowder and paper. I said I was a San Franciscan, and we invented blue jeans. Did that mean they — East Coast private school students — couldn’t wear blue jeans? I said we were in Peru, and the tomato came from Peru. Did that mean that Italians had to stop using tomatoes? That they had to stop eating pizza? Then one of the students said: “Does that mean that blackface is OK?” I said “No, not normally — but is it OK for black people to wear blackface?” “The student, sounding outraged, said “Black people don’t wear blackface!” I said “In South Africa, they absolutely do. The so-called colored people in Cape Town have a festival every year called the Coon Carnival where they wear blackface, play Dixieland music and wear striped jackets. It started when a minstrel show came to South Africa in the early 1900’s. Americans who visit South Africa tell them they’re offended they shouldn’t do it, and they answer ‘Buzz off. This is our culture now. Don’t come here from America and tell us what to do.’ So what do you say to them? Is it up to you, a white American, to tell black South Africans what is and isn’t their culture?”

Most of his readers will not object on scientific grounds

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021

Scott Alexander reviews Fredrik deBoer’s The Cult of Smart: How Our Broken Education System Perpetuates Social Injustice:

I’m Freddie’s ideological enemy, which means I have to respect him. And there’s a lot to like about this book. I think its two major theses — that intelligence is mostly innate, and that this is incompatible with equating it to human value — are true, important, and poorly appreciated by the general population. I tried to make a somewhat similar argument in my Parable Of The Talents, which DeBoer graciously quotes in his introduction. Some of the book’s peripheral theses — that a lot of education science is based on fraud, that US schools are not declining in quality, etc – are also true, fascinating, and worth spreading. Overall, I think this book does more good than harm.

It’s also rambling, self-contradictory in places, and contains a lot of arguments I think are misguided or bizarre.

[...]

Remember, one of the theses of this book is that individual differences in intelligence are mostly genetic. But DeBoer spends only a little time citing the studies that prove this is true. He (correctly) decides that most of his readers will object not on the scientific ground that they haven’t seen enough studies, but on the moral ground that this seems to challenge the basic equality of humankind. He (correctly) points out that this is balderdash, that innate differences in intelligence don’t imply differences in moral value, any more than innate differences in height or athletic ability or anything like that imply differences in moral value. His goal is not just to convince you about the science, but to convince you that you can believe the science and still be an okay person who respects everyone and wants them to be happy.

He could have written a chapter about race that reinforced this message. He could have reviewed studies about whether racial differences in intelligence are genetic or environmental, come to some conclusion or not, but emphasized that it doesn’t matter, and even if it’s 100% genetic it has no bearing at all on the need for racial equality and racial justice, that one race having a slightly higher IQ than another doesn’t make them “superior” any more than Pygmies’ genetic short stature makes them “inferior”.

Instead he — well, I’m not really sure what he’s doing. He starts by says racial differences must be environmental. Then he says that studies have shown that racial IQ gaps are not due to differences in income/poverty, because the gaps remain even after controlling for these. But, he says, there could be other environmental factors aside from poverty that cause racial IQ gaps. After tossing out some possibilities, he concludes that he doesn’t really need to be able to identify a plausible mechanism, because “white supremacy touches on so many aspects of American life that it’s irresponsible to believe we have adequately controlled for it”, no matter how many studies we do or how many confounders we eliminate. His argument, as far as I can tell, is that it’s always possible that racial IQ differences are environmental, therefore they must be environmental. Then he goes on to, at great length, denounce as loathsome and villainous anyone who might suspect these gaps of being genetic. Such people are “noxious”, “bigoted”, “ugly”, “pseudoscientific” “bad people” who peddle “propaganda” to “advance their racist and sexist agenda”. (But tell us what you really think!)

[...]

He acknowledges the existence of expert scientists who believe the differences are genetic (he names Linda Gottfredson in particular), but only to condemn them as morally flawed for asserting this.

But this is exactly the worldview he is, at this very moment, trying to write a book arguing against! His thesis is that mainstream voices say there can’t be genetic differences in intelligence among individuals, because that would make some people fundamentally inferior to others, which is morally repugnant — but those voices are wrong, because differences in intelligence don’t affect moral equality. Then he adds that mainstream voices say there can’t be genetic differences in intelligence among ethnic groups, because that would make some groups fundamentally inferior to others, which is morally repugnant — and those voices are right; we must deny the differences lest we accept the morally repugnant thing.

Social outcomes are substantially determined at birth

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2021

Gregory Clark’s latest (pre-print) paper, For Whom the Bell Curve Tolls, argues that a lineage of 400,000 English individuals 1750-2020 shows genetics determines most social outcomes:

It is generally assumed that the elements that define social status — occupational status, educational attainment, wealth, and even health — are transmitted across generations in important ways by the family environment. Above we show that the patterns of correlation of social status attributes in an extended lineage of 402,000 people in England are mainly those that would be predicted by simple additive genetic inheritance of social status in the presence of highly assortative mating around status genetics. Parent-child correlations for a trait equal those of siblings, and the patterns of correlation of relatives of different degrees of genetic affinity is mainly consistent with that predicted by additive genetics. Further family size and birth order, elements that would significantly affect the family environment for children, have modest effects on adult outcomes. The underlying persistence of traits is such that people who have likely never interacted socially, such as second to fifth cousins, remain surprisingly strongly correlated in terms of occupational status and wealth. The patterns observed imply that marital sorting must be strong in terms of the underlying genetics.

If this interpretation is correct then aspirations that by appropriate social design, rates of social mobility can be substantially increased will prove futile. We have to be resigned to living in a world where social outcomes are substantially determined at birth. Personally I would argue that this should push us towards compressing differences in income and wealth that are the product of such inherited characteristics. The Nordic model of the good society looks a lot more attractive than the Texan one.

Wokeness is a made-up mystery religion that college-educated people invented so they could feel superior to you

Monday, March 1st, 2021

Trump stood against the upper class, Scott Alexander argues:

He might define them as: people who live in nice apartments in Manhattan or SF or DC and laugh under their breath if anybody comes from Akron or Tampa. Who eat Thai food and Ethiopian food and anything fusion, think they would gain 200 lbs if they ever stepped in a McDonalds, and won’t even speak the name Chick-Fil-A. Who usually go to Ivy League colleges, though Amherst or Berkeley is acceptable if absolutely necessary. Who conspicuously love Broadway (especially Hamilton), LGBT, education, “expertise”, mass transit, and foreign anything. They conspicuously hate NASCAR, wrestling, football, “fast food”, SUVs, FOX, guns, the South, evangelicals, and reality TV. Who would never get married before age 25 and have cutesy pins about how cats are better than children. Who get jobs in journalism, academia, government, consulting, or anything else with no time-card where you never have to use your hands. Who all have exactly the same political and aesthetic opinions on everything, and think the noblest and most important task imaginable is to gatekeep information in ways that force everyone else to share those opinions too.

He proposes a Republican platform centered around fighting classism:

War On College: As it currently exists, college is a scheme for laundering and perpetuating class advantage. You need to make the case that bogus degree requirements (eg someone without a college degree can’t be a sales manager at X big company, but somebody with any degree, even Art History or Literature, can) are blatantly classist.

War On Experts: Argue that you love and support legitimate experts, but that the Democrats have invented and propped up a fake concept of expertise as a way of making sure upper-class people who can game admissions to top colleges control the discourse.

War On The Upper-Class Media: This is your new term for “mainstream media”. Being against the “mainstream media” sounds kind of conspiratorial. Instead, you’re against the upper-class media, which gains its status by systematically excluding lower-class voices, and which exists mostly as a tool of the upper classes to mock and humiliate the lower class.

War On Wokeness: But now it’s because wokeness is a made-up mystery religion that college-educated people invented so they could feel superior to you.

Fight the war, but don’t get anyone killed

Thursday, February 25th, 2021

The losses at Bloody Ridge, Heartbreak, and elsewhere had some result, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

On 22 October the enemy offered to meet in full plenary session once again, and to accept the U.N. preferred site of Panmunjom for future discussions.

[...]

What the enemy wanted was to fix the armistice line irrevocably before the remainder of the agenda was solved. This, of course, would effectively relieve the Communist powers of any further military pressure while the negotiations continued; the United Nations Command could hardly launch an offensive for ground it had already agreed to relinquish.

It would enable the Communists, as Admiral Joy saw and mentioned, to talk forever if they chose, with freedom from the grinding pressure they had been experiencing at Bloody and Heartbreak ridges.

[...]

The limited attacks of the Eighth Army during August, September, and October 1951 had unquestionably improved its military stance, and had unquestionably inflicted deep wounds on the enemy forces.

But as Boatner said, “Everybody was sick to death of the casualties.”

Men die to make others free, or to protect their homeland. They do not willingly die for a piece of real estate ten thousand miles from home, which they know their government will eventually surrender. Nor do the generals appointed over them, nor the governments they elect, willingly spend them so.

[...]

Now field commanders writhed under a new restriction: Fight the war, but don’t get anyone killed. Such orders were never issued — but they were clearly understood.

[...]

The Communists had a great part of what they had wanted from the first hour they had requested peace talks. They had dissipated the danger of a U.N. march to the Yalu, or a disastrous defeat in the field.

[...]

At the end of thirty days the enemy was no nearer signing the armistice than he had been in July. He now felt free to delay as long as he pleased, and it was soon apparent he intended to do so, reaping whatever propaganda coups he could.

[...]

It was now, not openly, but in mess tents and private gatherings along the brooding lines of entrenchments, that some men began to say, “MacArthur was right.”

The United Nations did not want military victory

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2021

A new pattern, the one that would characterize most of the following hill battles, was being set on Heartbreak Ridge, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

On the disputed terrain, generally a small area, the fighting was hell itself. Artillery fire such as the world had never seen was massed against single hills, day after day. Because of the limitation of the fighting area, units were committed piecemeal, and the committed units were generally quickly cut to pieces, and replaced.

A few miles to either side of the disputed hill, the front lay quiet and brooding, without more than routine activity. And behind regimental headquarters, few men even knew there was a war on.

Action of this kind was contrary to all American military doctrine. The solution to success on Heartbreak, as later on Baldy, Pork Chop, Arrowhead, T-Bone, and a dozen others, would have been to hit the enemy elsewhere, knock him off balance in a dozen places, punch through.

But the United Nations Command had no authority to put massive pressure on the enemy along the whole line. They had no authority to reopen the wholesale fighting; the United Nations did not want military victory; they wanted truce.

And the enemy was perfectly willing to fight to the death over a small piece of ground, seemingly forever. The fought-over hills assumed propaganda and political values out of all proportion to their military worth.

Nobody knows where it comes from but it can’t be ignored

Monday, February 22nd, 2021

When I read a friend’s copy of Robert Heinlein’s Glory Road back in high school, only a couple things stuck with me: (1) dueling scars, and (2) methane-burning dragons. When I recently re-read it, it was chock-full of Heinlein-isms. Here’s what jumped out at me in the first few dozen pages:

It was an election year with the customary theme of anything you can do I can do better, to a background of beeping sputniks. I was twenty-one but couldn’t figure out which party to vote against.

I object to conscription the way a lobster objects to boiling water: it may be his finest hour but it’s not his choice.

Nevertheless I love my country. Yes, I do, despite propaganda all through school about how patriotism is obsolete. One of my great-grandfathers died at Gettysburg and my father made that long walk back from Inchon Reservoir, so I didn’t buy this new idea. I argued against it in class—until it got me a “D” in Social Studies, then I shut up and passed the course.

After you’ve spent years and years trying to knock the patriotism out of a boy, don’t expect him to cheer when he gets a notice reading: Greeting: You are hereby ordered for induction into the Armed Forces of the United States—

Sure, they had Hitler and the Depression ahead of them. But they didn’t know that. We had Khrushchev and the H-bomb and we certainly did know. But we were not a “Lost Generation.” We were worse; we were the “Safe Generation.”

Oh, we talked beatnik jive and dug cool sounds in stereo and disagreed with Playboy’s poll of jazz musicians just as earnestly as if it mattered. We read Salinger and Kerouac and used language that shocked our parents and dressed (sometimes) in beatnik fashion. But we didn’t think that bongo drums and a beard compared with money in the bank. We weren’t rebels. We were as conformist as army worms. “Security” was our unspoken watchword.

Short of a pregnant wife with well-to-do parents the greatest security lay in being 4-F. Punctured eardrums were good but an allergy was best. One of my neighbors had a terrible asthma that lasted till his twenty-sixth birthday. No fake—he was allergic to draft boards.

More than half of my generation were “unfit for military service.”

I was no better off financially as my uncle-in-law was supporting a first wife—under California law much like being an Alabama field hand before the Civil War.

Ever been in Southeast Asia? It makes Florida look like a desert. Wherever you step it squishes. Instead of tractors they use water buffaloes. The bushes are filled with insects and natives who shoot at you. It wasn’t a war—not even a “Police Action.” We were “Military Advisers.” But a Military Adviser who has been dead four days in that heat smells the same way a corpse does in a real war.

I was promoted to corporal. I was promoted seven times. To corporal.

Military policy is like cancer: Nobody knows where it comes from but it can’t be ignored.

In Asia every cab driver speaks enough English to take you to the Red Light district and to shops where you buy “bargains.” But he is never able to find your dock or boat landing.

Do you know how much tax a bachelor pays on $140,000 in the Land of the Brave and the Home of the Fee? $103,000, that’s what he pays.

I wouldn’t be “cheating” Uncle Sugar; the USA had no more moral claim on that money (if I won) than I had on the Holy Roman Empire. What had Uncle Sugar done for me? He had clobbered my father’s life with two wars, one of which we weren’t allowed to win—and thereby made it tough for me to get through college quite aside from what a father may be worth in spiritual intangibles to his son (I didn’t know, I never would know!)—then he had grabbed me out of college and had sent me to fight another unWar and damned near killed me and lost me my sweet girlish laughter.

About then I made a horrible discovery. I didn’t want to go back to school, win, lose, or draw. I no longer gave a damn about three-car garages and swimming pools, nor any other status symbol or “security.” There was no security in this world and only damn fools and mice thought there could be.

Somewhere back in the jungle I had shucked off all ambition of that sort. I had been shot at too many times and had lost interest in supermarkets and exurban subdivisions and tonight is the PTA supper don’t forget dear you promised.

They never quite understood why they were taken

Sunday, February 21st, 2021

The Judge Advocate General had ruled, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War), that any man who had once held a commission, whether he had kept it active or not, could be legally recalled to fight in Korea:

And the Pentagon, when the Chinese poured across the Yalu, had made an incalculable error, one that would damage the Army Reserve Program for a decade. Never certain that a big war would not start any minute, the Pentagon called, not the officers and men in Table of Organization units, receiving pay and training, but the bulk of the inactive reservists, men who had received neither, and whose interest was less. The inactive individuals could be called up for fillers; the units were kept in reserve for a bigger war, which never came.

Most of the forty thousand Reserve officers recalled involuntarily and sent to Korea had never expected service short of all-out war. They never quite understood why they were taken, when hundreds of thousands of National Guardsmen and others, organized in units, were kept at home.

[...]

Hundreds of thousands of officers and men were sent as individual replacements. They arrived in their new divisions friendless and alone. Most of them never developed any feeling for a division in which they had not trained, in which they merely put in their time, until they could rotate out once more, again as individuals.

There have been few reunions of veterans of the Korean War.

And there was a final tragedy, affecting many of the recallees. Reserve officers, recalled from jobs and businesses for two years, on top of the loss of time during 1941–1945, often had no career to return to. Many elected to remain in the Army. But when Korea ended, and Washington, determined once again never to fight a ground war, shrank the Army back below a million men, the Army had no place for these men.

Thousands would have to return to civilian life, short of qualifying for pensions, to seek new jobs after the age of thirty-five or forty.

The social problems, of course, were not solved

Friday, February 19th, 2021

There had been continual difficulty with the all-Negro units sent into Korea, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

The problem is not one of race or color, but of a minority group, anywhere, which has had much of its essential pride as human beings stripped from it. The strongest urge of any minority group, Armenians, French-Canadians, or Untouchables, is to survive. They have no other effective way of fighting.

The old jokes about the military courage of certain minority groups has some basis in fact. Turks joke about the fighting ability of Turkish Christians. The indigenous Christians that Turks know are submerged, wily folk, sharp with money, slyly sticking together against the Moslem world, absolutely uninterested in going out to fight and die for the Turkish State. They see absolutely nothing to be gained by it — nor is there.

A diplomat from Istanbul, several centuries ago, remarked it was odd that Franks in the Western kingdoms were much more like Turks than like Christians. If this Turkish gentleman had visited the medieval ghettos, he might have begun to understand.

Jews in Eastern Europe often went to the gas chambers without a protest, without lifting a hand. The young men of the same human stock raised in Israel are among the toughest, hardiest folk in the world.

[...]

The Columbia professor, and others, discussed practical means of ending the Army’s trouble. They saw only one solution: desegregation.

In front of white men, the sociologists claimed, colored soldiers would feel an urge to prove themselves, and have a chance to develop pride they could never achieve in a segregated unit. They recommended one per squad, or two, no more — because the tendencies of the persecuted are to group together against the world.

[...]

And the United States Army’s combat problem with colored troops was largely ended. Filtered through the white units, they did well. Three weeks after its fiasco on Bloody Ridge, 3/9 performed with excellence.

The social problems, of course, were not solved. A solution to these can be anticipated only when all men look alike, hold the same views, or are so apathetic that it no longer matters.

The establishment media believes that it is the world’s noble and benevolent arbiter of truth

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Fredrik deBoer Describes the recent New York Times hit piece on Scott Alexander and his blog SlateStarCodex as an expression of a constant dynamic in media and the Times in particular:

[T]he establishment media believes that it is the world’s noble and benevolent arbiter of truth, and the kind of people who work for the Times are immensely disdainful of and actively hostile to anyone who seeks to inform or persuade the public who does not write for one of a dozen dusty legacy publications and who did not go to one of 20 or so elite colleges. Scott Alexander built up a large and immensely influential readership completely on his own, writing a blog that, whatever its faults, stepped far outside of the narrow and parochial currents that Very Serious Media refuses to leave. This was a threat, a challenge to people like Cade Metz who think that it is their divine right to be the ones to tell the story. So Metz set out to destroy Alexander, with the full backing of the official paper of crossword addicts and columns about bootstraps and dynamism. I’m sure a lot of ink has been spilled about this story, and more will come. Understand: Cade Metz wrote this story because he had to punish Alexander for writing an influential publication with no backing from the important people. Whatever anyone else says, that is the reality.

Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves and yet the country has run out of gasoline

Thursday, February 18th, 2021

Venezuela has the world’s largest proven oil reserves and yet the country has run out of gasoline:

The socialist government has lost the capacity to extract oil from the ground or refine it into a usable form. The industry’s gradual deterioration was 18 years in the making, tracing back to then-President Hugo Chávez’s 2003 decision to fire the oil industry’s most experienced engineers in an act of petty political retribution.

The near-total collapse in the nation’s oil output in the ensuing years is a stark reminder that the most valuable commodity isn’t a natural resource, but the human expertise to put it to productive use.

[...]

“Drivers who operate gas-powered busses prefer to keep them parked so that they can suck out the gas and later resell it,” says Andrés, a public bus operator in Caracas, who asked that we only use his first name.

“[My] bus runs on diesel. It uses 16 [or] 17 gallons daily. Nowadays, we have to wait in a long line to fill up,” he said. “The gas stations even have national guards who ask for bribes before they’ll fill up the tank because the 40 liters that the government gives us isn’t enough.”

Andrés is allowed special access to fill up his tank because he provides an essential city service. But earning the equivalent of just $200 a month, he struggles to make ends meet. So he keeps his bus parked and extracts gas from the tank to resell on the black market, earning about $8 per gallon. To put that into perspective, the average Venezuelan subsists on less than $10 per day.

The little gas that is still available comes via periodic shipments from Iran. But the Venezuelan government doesn’t officially charge at most gas stations. It uses a quota system, so filling a tank can mean waiting in line for days.

David is a mechanic living in Caracas. These days he’s making a living by waiting in line to fill up his tank and then extracting the gas to resell on the black market.

“My business isn’t selling gas,” David says. “It is meeting the needs of my customers.”

“A lot of the clients from my repair shop are elderly people — people who can’t be standing in line for eight hours, or two days, or three days, or a week. I am the person who is sacrificing my time. Clearly, I have to charge for my time. We all have to make a living.”

What neither Korea nor America could furnish was leadership

Monday, February 15th, 2021

Washington had authorized MacArthur to arm and train hundreds of thousands more ROKs, T. R. Fehrenbach explains (in This Kind of War):

Men — tough, patient, hill-padding Korean peasants — there were in plenty. Surplus weapons from the big war, food, and money to pay them, America could easily furnish.

What neither Korea nor America could furnish was leadership.

[...]

The politicians in primitive societies want no generals they cannot trust. They prefer a politically reliable man at the head of a division to a competent one who may happen to belong to the wrong family or team.

[...]

Frequently when the transport of a ROK division was vitally needed to haul ammunition at the front, the trucks were back in the interior carrying firewood for soldiers’ dependents, or on private hire to build the divisional welfare fund. Gasoline disappeared regularly into the civilian economy.

KMAG fought a losing battle against five thousand years of Oriental custom. Most of them, it must be admitted, developed a frustrated respect for the Chinese Reds who overnight destroyed the “silver bullets” tradition of the Chinese Army — the old situation when Chinese generals fought not with bullets of lead, but silver, meaning they could be bought — and who delivered supplies from Canton to Mukden, and from Mukden to Korea without pilfering, tampering, or diversion to private use according to sacred custom. But the Chinese Communists, puritan like all human revolutionists, had means not available to KMAG.

In the CCF it was very easy to have a man shot.