Category Archives: History

Crucial Difference Between Truth and Meaning


BOOK REVIEW

The Life of the Mind, Author: Hannah Arendt.

By Maria Popova – While our thirst for knowledge may be unquenchable because of the immensity of the unknown, the activity itself leaves behind a growing treasure of knowledge that is retained and kept in store by every civilization as part and parcel of its world.

The loss of this accumulation and of the technical expertise required to conserve and increase it inevitably spells the end of this particular world. more> http://tinyurl.com/pcg6m9w

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Has Capitalism Reached A Turning Point?


By Steve Denning – The entrenched interests are mutually reinforcing, as society as a whole has come to accept the practices and ideology of 20th Century management as inevitable.

The C-suite is offered extraordinary compensation by their boards for implementing the practices. Business schools teach their students how do it.

Institutional shareholders are complicit. Regulators pursue individual wrong-doing rather than addressing systemic failure. Rating agencies reward malfeasance. Analysts applaud short-term gains and mostly ignore long-term rot.

Politicians, lavished with campaign contributions, stand by and watch. In such a context, it isn’t easy for any individual business leader to take a stand and say: this is simply not right.

It’s the entire society that needs to change. more> http://tinyurl.com/p4as2xl

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Obama makes case for war


By Dana Milbank – This is how a Nobel Peace Prize laureate goes to war.

He admits his country’s own flaws, praises “the path of diplomacy and peace,” and asserts that lasting gains cannot be “won at the barrel of a gun.”

“No god condones this terror. No grievance justifies these actions. There can be no reasoning, no negotiation, with this brand of evil. The only language understood by killers like this is the language of force. So the United States of America will work with a broad coalition to dismantle this network of death.” more> http://tinyurl.com/qhpbnd7

Updates from GE


The Century-Old Panama Canal is Opening Up to a Busy Future

GE – The Panama Canal is a full century old, but that doesn’t mean it still can’t grow. The 48-mile-long landmark that cuts across “the backbone of the Western Hemisphere” is going through the final year of a massive expansion. When work is completed in 2015, new locks will allow giant “New Panamax” class of container ships and supertankers through and boost the canal’s capacity by half.

In 1914, the canal used 500 GE motors to operate the locks, with 500 more installed elsewhere in the system. GE also built the power plants that provided the canal with electricity and designed the centralized control equipment for the locks.

One historian noted that GE “produced about half the electrical equipment needed during construction and virtually all of the permanent motors, relays, switches, wiring and generating equipment. They also built the original locks towing locomotives and all of the lighting.”

Those 40 electric towing locomotives were made in Schenectady, NY. Since ships were not permitted to pass through the locks under their own power, these “lock mules” rode on rails next to the canal and pulled them through the locks. Custom gears and electrical design allowed them to run as slow as 1 mph, the speed required for gently tugging large vessels. more> http://tinyurl.com/kuvm694

Afghanistan’s Failed Transformation


By Ahmed Rashid – John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, apparently is the only official in Washington who dares speak truth to power.

In a Sept. 12 speech at Georgetown University, he said that Afghanistan “remains under assault by insurgents and is short of domestic revenue, plagued by corruption, afflicted by criminal elements involved in opium and smuggling, and struggling to execute basic functions of government.”

His comments were largely ignored by the American media.

And yet anything less than a heavy dose of honesty and fresh thinking by Afghans and their Western supporters will almost certainly mean the relapse of Afghanistan into civil war and the emergence of groups even more extreme than the Taliban, as has happened in Iraq and Syria. more> http://tinyurl.com/qz7uuwb

The Debate Over Net Neutrality Has Its Roots in the Fight Over Radio Freedom


By Clive Thompson – The idea of transmitting sound waves through the air caught on especially after the experiments of the Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi [2, 3, 4, 5, 6] in the late 19th century.

With relatively small amounts of power, someone at home could broadcast for dozens of miles. Magazines printed schematics. “Any boy can own a real wireless station, if he really wants to,” urged The Book of Wireless.

The early amateurs had no fixed schedules. They’d broadcast a song—and then go silent for minutes, even hours, because they had nothing else lined up.

At first, the idea of making money off radio seemed profane.

This attitude did not last, however. By the mid-1920s, larger and more professional stations and networks, such as AT&T’s National Broadcasting System, were emerging. They realized advertising could be a gold mine. On August 29, 1922, the large Manhattan station WEAF ran one of the world’s first radio ads. more> http://tinyurl.com/krta3q7

American families are stuck in a lost quarter century


By Matt Phillips – Auto sales are booming—but that’s largely because it’s so easy for consumers to get loans.

In a consumption-dominated economy like the US, consumers need to spend.

And if consumers don’t have the wages to spend, the only way to keep the consumption engine going is by extending debt to people with extremely shaky finances.

That’s a recipe for a future full of financial crises. more> http://tinyurl.com/mf2obd3