August 16, 2017

Creepiness in the feed

What could they be looking at?  My guess is this.

August 15, 2017


Yeah, I'm going to that

Temptations musical - "Ain't Too Proud" - at Berkeley Rep.


The best album I'd never heard until very recently

Turn some mellow Memphis guys loose in New York, add a dash of funk and a sprinkle of Allman Brothers, and you get the driving, energetic "Melting Pot" by Booker T and the MG's.  It was the band's last album.  Bruce Eder at Allmusic reckons that it was also their best "with Jones in particular playing with an almost demonic intensity and range, backed ably by Donald 'Duck' Dunn's rocksteady bass in particular."

"Melting Pot" followed the very different, but also interesting "McLemore Avenue", which is worth a spin next time you're cruising aimlessly through the Mission at moderate speeds.

August 14, 2017

A rare but good recommendation from Mrs. Other Front

August 13, 2017

There's this other theory called karma...

Krylenko was an exponent of socialist legality and the theory that political considerations, rather than criminal guilt or innocence, should guide the application of punishment. Although a participant in the Show Trials and political repression of the late 1920s and early 1930s, Krylenko was ultimately arrested himself during the Great Purge. Following interrogation and torture by the NKVD, Krylenko confessed to extensive involvement in wrecking and anti-Soviet agitation. He was sentenced to death by the Military Collegium of the Soviet Supreme Court, in a trial lasting 20 minutes, and executed immediately afterwards.


August 12, 2017

These kids today, they ain't so bad

August 10, 2017

Jay Cutler: miss me yet?

Bears' Mike Glennon throws pick-6 on third play of opener


Is it too late to mention that I disagree with the President's views?

More please

The music in the lobby of an office building in oil-rich Midland, Texas yesterday:
The lunatic is on the grass 
The lunatic is on the grass 
Remembering games and daisy chains and laughs 
Got to keep the loonies on the path

And in a bookstore in San Francisco today:
I have loved some ladies 
and I have loved Jim Beam 
And they both tried to kill me 
in 1973 
When that doctor asked me 
'son how'd you get in this condition?' 
I said 'hey Sawbones I'm just carrying on 
an old family tradition.'

I have no idea what shadowy clique is orchestrating these cultural subversions, these subtle jabs at the walls of our echo chambers, or what their agenda might be.  But whomever you are, please continue.

August 08, 2017

Wizards don't need encyclopedias

Claude [Shannon]’s gifts were of the Einsteinian variety: a strong intuitive feel for the dimensions of a problem, with less of a concern for the step-by-step details. As he put it, “I think I’m more visual than symbolic. I try to get a feeling of what’s going on. Equations come later.” Like Einstein, he needed a sounding board, a role that [his wife] Betty played perfectly. His colleague David Slepian said, “He didn’t know math very deeply. But he could invent whatever he needed.”

(link) <-- good book

See also Fortune's Formula.

He's matured, his head's in the game now...oh who am I kidding

Drew League action this week:

This is the 8th or 9th best player on the Warriors.  On the other hand, he does stuff like this and you wonder why he isn't an all-star:

Oh, he got into an epic scoring duel with James Harden, too.  Lost, but still...

August 05, 2017

My views on the current administration

In an alternate reality I am re-mixing this movie to a soundtrack of Massive Attack and Fun Lovin Criminals

@ 1:20 -

"I'm saving your life Mister President."


Oh Uber, don't ever change

  • Uber's search for a female CEO has been narrowed down to 3 men (link)
  • Uber Knowingly Leased Unsafe Cars To Its Drivers In Singapore, Report Says (link)
  • Uber’s Alleged Plot To Take Google’s Tech Probably Began Sooner Than Anyone Thought (link)

The last sane man

Look football is great but I ain't dying for this s--t. Lol.
 - Martellus Bennett


August 04, 2017

Play this movie LOUD

I recommend seeing the whole thing, when you can.

Killed at the Diner

Here is a full list of Kojak episode titles. I don't know who came up with these, but I think they were going for a "tough" vibe, at least at first.  I include a few annotations, color-coded for your convenience - it's interesting to see the strong start, the battle for the show's soul, and then the tragic descent into effeminate incoherence:
  • "Siege of Terror" - Excellent
  • "Web of Death" - Well done
  • "One for the Morgue" - Very good
  • "Knockover" - Eh
  • "Girl in the River" - That's the old fastball
  • "Requiem for a Cop" - Every show has that one
  • "The Corrupter" - Nah, too abstract
  • "Dark Sunday" - A little better
  • "Conspiracy of Fear" - Now you're talking
  • "Cop in a Cage" - Tell me more!
  • "Marker to a Dead Bookie" - Good
  • "Last Rites for a Dead Priest" - Not tough enough
  • "Death Is Not a Passing Grade" - Better
  • "Die Before They Wake" - Death is always good
  • "Deliver Us Some Evil" - Excellent
  • "Eighteen Hours of Fear" - Now you're back on form
  • "Before the Devil Knows" - Sidney Lumet liked it
  • "Dead on His Feet" - Death is good
  • "Down a Long and Lonely River" - What are you fucking Marlowe?!  I NEED A TITLE!
  •  "Mojo" - Yeah
  • "Therapy in Dynamite" - Extra snacks for you
  • "The Only Way Out" - Good, good
  • "The Chinatown Murders: Part 1" - A little descriptive, but why not
  • "The Chinatown Murders: Part 2" - A little descriptive, but why not
  • "Hush Now, Don't You Die" - Pretty good FOR A CHARLIE'S ANGELS EPISODE.  C'mon.
  • "A Very Deadly Game" - Ok
  • "Wall Street Gunslinger" - You're out of your element.
  • "Slay Ride" - You go to Harvard?
  • "Nursemaid" - We're losing it here people.
  • "You Can't Tell a Hurt Man How to Holler" - What's this a minstrel show?
  • "The Best Judge Money Can Buy" - Well, better than we've been having.
  • "A Souvenir from Atlantic City" - What...?  I got your souvenir right here, a pink slip!
  • "A Killing in the Second House" - That's the stuff.
  • "The Best War in Town" - Much better.
  • "Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die" - Yes
  • "The Betrayal" - Ok, betrayal is good.
  • "Loser Takes All" - Huh, eh why not.
  • "Close Cover Before Killing" - Solid.
  • "Acts of Desperate Men" - Yes, yes.
  • "Queen of the Gypsies" - No, no!
  • "Night of the Piraeus" - Night I killed a screenwriter with a piano wire.
  • "Elegy in an Asphalt Graveyard" - YES [firstbump]
  • "The Goodluck Bomber" - Yeah, yeah, good.
  • "Unwanted Partners" - Oh the Murphy Brown very special episode?
  • "Two-Four-Six for Two Hundred" - I was told there would be no math.
  • "The Trade-Off" - Ew.
  • "I Want to Report a Dream" - I dreamed a pansy was working for me.
  • "A Question of Answers: Part 1" - Arg.
  • "A Question of Answers: Part 2" - Arg, Part 2.
  • "My Brother, My Enemy" - Average
  • "Sweeter Than Life" - Yeah, ok, I kinda like that
  • "Be Careful What You Pray For" - What, now we're doing consumer tips?
  • "Secret Snow, Deadly Snow" - Death is good.
  • "Life, Liberation, and the Pursuit of Death" - Very good.
  • "Out of the Frying Pan…" - Nah
  • "Over the Water" - How about DEATH Over the Water?
  • "The Nicest Guys on the Block" - Nah
  • "No Immunity for Murder" - Good
  • "A Long Way from Times Square" - Nah
  • "Money Back Guarantee" - Nah
  • "A House of Prayer, a Den of Thieves" - Now we're disrespecting the Church?
  • "How Cruel the Frost, How Bright the Stars" - How lame the title
  • "The Forgotten Room" - Oh I hope Miss Marple solves it
  • "On the Edge" - Average
  • "A Wind from Corsica" - I'll allow it
  • "Bad Dude" - There, better
  • "A Grave Too Soon" - Yes, EXCELLENT
  • "The Frame" - Nah
  • "Deadly Innocence" - Ok, kind of a juxtaposition thing
  • "Justice Deferred" - No no no
  • "Both Sides of the Law" - SHE WAS A HOOKER!
  • "Birthday Party" - No
  • "A Summer Madness" - Yes
  • "Law Dance" - I can't even
  • "Out of the Shadows" - guest starring Barnabus Collins?  Fuck shadows.  Shadows suck.
  • "A Need to Know" - Mannix.
  • "An Unfair Trade" - Cannon.
  • "A Hair-Trigger Away" - Gad.
  • "By Silence Betrayed" - The Day the Poet Died
  • "A Shield for Murder: Part 1" - Ok
  • "A Shield for Murder: Part 2" - OK
  • "The Pride and the Princess" - FUCK NO
  • "Black Thorn" - Romance novel shit
  • "Where Do You Go When You Have No Place To Go?" - Who can I turn to when you DON'T FUCKING GET IT?!
  • "Dead Again" - Solid.
  • "The Godson" - What's a Godson?  Was he on Carson?
  • "The Condemned" - Yeah, kinda morbid, ok.
  • "When You Hear the Beep, Drop Dead" - That's cool.
  • "I Was Happy Where I Was" - This used to be a tough show.
  • "Kojak's Days: Part 1" - I'm puking here.
  • "Kojak's Days: Part 2" - Worse
  • "Monkey on a String" - Hey, that's ok, I like that.
  • "Kiss It All Goodbye" - Yeah, that's a Kojak title.
  • "Lady in the Squadroom" - Someone dropping lady pills in the coffee here?
  • "Sister Maria" - Apparently so
  • "Another Gypsy Queen" - Another dead screenwriter.
  • "The Queen of Hearts Is Wild" - This show is so dead.
  • "A Strange Kind of Love" - The dirt is hitting our face
  • "Laid Off" - Is what we will be
  • "Cry for the Kids" - Is what we will do
  • "Once More from Birdland" - With pretty ladies dancing
  • "Caper on a Quiet Street" - Now we're fucking capering
  • "Letters of Death" - Yes, for the love God YES
  • "Tears for All Who Love Her" - Annnd back to The After-School Specials, very nice
  • "The Summer of '69: Part 1" - I can smell the honey shampoo
  • "The Summer of '69: Part 2" - and the dope
  • "Case Without a File" - Episode without a title
  • "I Could Kill My Wife's Lawyer" - Enough with the autobiography, Sid
  • "Justice for All" - It's the fucking Pledge of Allegiance.  Maybe Death for All?
  • "Mouse" - Rat. Poison.
  • "Chain of Custody" - Ok, tough enough, maybe a little too smart, but ok.
  • "The Captain's Brother's Wife" - ...who screwed the French Lieutenant's Woman.  FUCK that noise.
  • "No License to Kill" - No one with a penis tuned in.
  • "The Halls of Terror" - YEAH
  • "May the Horse Be With You" - NO
  • "Photo Must Credit Joe Paxton" - WHAT
  • "60 Miles to Hell" - NOW YOU ARE TALKING
  • "In Full Command" - And we're cancelled, nice working with you Morty.

August 03, 2017

Well I know who *I'm* rooting for

“You are going to have the [former] FBI director testify, and then the acting director, the chief of staff to the FBI director, the FBI’s general counsel, and then others, one right after another. This has never been the word of Trump against what [James Comey] has had to say. This is more like the Federal Bureau of Investigation versus Donald Trump.”


A very long time ago, before the rot set in, James Cramer wrote something to the effect that no matter how big and powerful you think you are, there is a serious man in a starched shirt in Washington DC, who doesn't make much money, and whose name is not a household word.  And some day that man is going to take you down.

July 31, 2017

James Harden goes to the Drew League for a little pickup game...

...and meets the Warriors' #1 draft pick.


July 30, 2017

State of the Empire, Summer 2017

A little early, I suppose, to call them the Greatest basketball team that ever played.  It's been a good run, but Bill Russell still would laugh.

On the other hand, there is a case to be made.  Here is the Warriors' ELO rating as computed by Five Thirty Eight after the Finals (and an explanatory article written before):

It is very, very good.  This is, in fact, the highest ELO rating achieved by any team, ever.

But, as summer began it all seemed very much at risk.  Four of the Warriors' six best players were free agents, two of them former MVPs.  The early betting was that they would keep Curry and Durant, but probably would not be able keep both Iguodala and Livingston.

Yet they did (thanks Kevin).  With the contracts all tied up, the Warriors will bring back exactly the same top seven as they had last year, and that group differed from the prior two teams only in the  Upgrade to Durant / Downgrade to Pachulia.  So we'll be seeing more of this in the years to come.

While the xBarnes +Durant maneuver deservedly got most of the credit for the team's resurgence after the disaster of 2016, they made another change that I believe was almost equally important.  For all their charm and skill, Championship Warriors 1.0 lacked muscle and grit, and as the 2016 playoffs progressed this became more and more evident.  To correct that they added David West and JaVale McGee, two large men who are hard to push around. West, in particular, takes shit from no man, as the Cleveland Cavaliers learned in the Finals.  West came here to chew bubblegum and win championships, and is all out of bubblegum, so he re-signed immediately.  True to character JaVale dithered, but after a summer of flirting with the likes of the Clippers, he too has returned to the fold.

Sadly, Ian Clark will probably not be rejoining the team in 2017-18.  The Warriors elected instead to sign free agent Nick Young, who is literally one of my motivational posters for this act of infamy.  He's a legendary airhead - the nickname Swaggy P does not connote a high degree of professionalism in any case.  Back in the day he and JaVale used to run together in Washington, when that team was winning about a third of its games.

They say he's changed.  Durant, Curry and Green all recruited him, and he took less money than he could have made with the Lakers.  Well, we'll see.  I'm not giving that cell a green highlight just yet - give me Clark, the consummate professional, any day.

So, of the top ten players from the 2017 championship team, nine are returning, and the 10th is (arguably) an upgrade the core players like.

I thought the response of the Warriors front office to the collapse of 2016 was interesting.  They signed Durant, brought in a couple of big men, and then cleared almost everyone else off the roster:  Bogut, Barbosa, Speights, and Rush all went out the door.  People said this was to clear cap space for Durant, but I think it was also to wash 2016 right out of their hair.  Someone had to pay the price for that collapse, and it wasn't going to be all-stars.

But, ironically, the Warriors appear to have gotten better at the bottom of the roster this off season.  In the first championship year there weren't many real players there, although Ezeli was effective before he got hurt.  But last year they bought into the draft and took McCaw, who, it turns out, plays like an NBA player.  This year they bought in again and drafted Jordan Bell, who looked very Draymond-y in Summer League.  And then this Israeli guy Casspi they just got is 6-9 and can really shoot.

So, while they stood pat (against all odds) at the top of the roster, the Warriors did a lot at the bottom.  I wondered how much of this was just churn and how much was reasoned analysis.  I think mostly the latter.  Here is +/- per 100 possessions for each Warriors player in the 2017 playoffs, plotted against minutes played:

Except for Damian Jones, who has been injured, everyone with a negative +/- is gone.  Everyone else stays.

It says a lot:  While other teams tried bold trades or just imploded, the Warriors spent the summer methodically trying to get better, and probably succeeded.  They are acting like a team that understands that no matter how the gods have favored you, nothing is written, everything is contingent, only the paranoid survive.  Isn't that wonderful?

I look forward to seeing the (slightly improved) Greatest Team That Ever Played take the court next season.

"Know ye not that the end and object of conquest is to avoid doing the same thing as the conquered?" - Alexander the Great


July 29, 2017

Speaking of educating the youngsters...

These kids today don't know what a real failed presidency looks like.  They'll get one now, kicking off nicely with the veto-proof vote (House 419-3, Senate 98-2) to toughen sanctions on Russia and strip the President of his ability to weaken them.  He's going to sign the paper, because getting a veto overridden would only draw further attention to what a weak man he is.

But, say you're 35 or something...this is all new.

  • Obama, eight years of effective executive leadership.
  • Bush W, eight years of effective executive leadership I did not agree with, by Cheney.
  • Clinton, eight years of wildly entertaining but generally effective leadership.
  • Bush Sr., four years of effective leadership, got caught between Clinton and the recession.
  • Reagan, eight years of LEGENDARY, though revisionist views deserve attention.  Still, whatever you thought of Iran-Contra and all the rest of it, it's hard to argue the Reagan and his team were incompetent.  To paraphrase Marco Rubio, they knew exactly what they were doing.
So, that's five reasonably successful presidencies in a row, from an executive leadership standpoint.  But before that, man, it was rough, four failed presidencies in a row, on my reckoning:
  • Carter, four years, lost Congress - the best comparison with the current executive, I think
People of Monrovia!  The man to my left will be dead in two years!
  • Ford, couldn't get re-elected, noted for Mayaguez Incident, WIN program.
  • Nixon was a competent executive, but of course resigned for various reasons.
  • Johnson, attempting to micromanage his way to victory in Vietnam, was knocked out of the '68 campaign by Eugene McCarthy.
Never forget:  1968-1980, one bad wipeout after another.  As fucked up as Trump has been, us old guys have seen stuff like this before.  The best thing would be for us to come to our collective senses and nip this shit in the bud.  Let's hope that Russia vote starts a trend.

I'm with Lawrence Summers:  we do not want to learn what we can get used to.

2:20 - whoa

A New Yorker who moved to Los Angeles in the mid-1950s, Mr. Nathanson was writing for magazines, often about the military, when a neighbor in Hollywood Hills told him a story that would evolve into his first novel. The neighbor was Russ Meyer, the filmmaker who later became known as King Leer for directing soft-core films featuring big-breasted women. Meyer, who died in 2004, had been a combat photographer and cameraman during World War II, and he recounted an episode at an Army stockade in England in which he shot a company of prisoners who were training, he was told, for a top secret mission behind enemy lines just before D-Day.

Mr. Nathanson was intrigued, and he set about doing the research for what he imagined would be a nonfiction book about the company. Unable to confirm that such a company existed, he nonetheless found a trove of information in court-martial transcripts and other documents about the men in Army stockades during the war. From these, he created the characters for a novel that he called “The Dirty Dozen,” the title referring to a collective refusal to bathe or shave during training.

The company in the novel did bear a resemblance to a group known as the Filthy 13, a band of rambunctious, authority-defying paratroopers who were far better known for drinking than for washing up, who were in and out of the stockade, and who landed behind German lines just before the invasion of Normandy. They were not, however, the murderers, rapists and borderline madmen depicted by Mr. Nathanson, who always contended that his book was based on Meyer’s initial tale and his own imagination.

“Powerfully prosaic,” as Kirkus Reviews called it, “The Dirty Dozen” reportedly sold more than two million copies.


July 28, 2017

"That's called directing."

(I love these Trailers From Hell.)

July 27, 2017

I have one word for you: Charles Bronson

July 22, 2017


Cool story, bro.


July 21, 2017

The Great Landau

You know of course about Ed Wood:

But Landau was even prouder of his role in the forgotten (but unbelievably well-cast) Mistress.  I watched some of it while I was in Europe and concluded that 1) the movie deserved to be forgotten, despite some very interesting moments (Ebert liked it, though); and 2) Landau's performance as a scraping-by agent was awesome.  Here is the movie:

May I suggest sirs review the scenes at at 7:00-11:20 and 17:30-19:47.

Note that Landau (as he explains here) never showed his teeth as Lugosi, but for Mistress wore the "smile mask" throughout the first half of the film.

More from Postwar

A few excerpts from the first 20% of this great book, with some pictures supplied by me:

This book tells the story of Europe since the Second World War and so it begins in 1945: Stunde nul, as the Germans called it—Zero hour.

On the eve of the continent’s final descent into the abyss the prospect for Europe appeared hopeless. Whatever it was that had been lost in the course of the implosion of European civilization—a loss whose implications had long since been intuited by Karl Kraus and Franz Kafka in Zweig’s own Vienna—would never be recaptured. In Jean Renoir’s eponymous film classic of 1937, the Grand Illusion of the age was the resort to war and its accompanying myths of honour, caste and class. But by 1940, to observant Europeans, the grandest of all Europe’s illusions—now discredited beyond recovery—was ‘European civilisation’ itself.

In the circumstances of 1945, in a continent covered with rubble, there was much to be gained by behaving as though the past was indeed dead and buried and a new age about to begin. The price paid was a certain amount of selective, collective forgetting, notably in Germany. But then, in Germany above all, there was much to forget.

Cologne, 1945

Whatever their party ‘label’, the elder statesmen of Europe were all, by 1945, skeptical, pragmatic practitioners of the art of the possible.

Konrad Adenauer (1876-1967) as Prime Minister in 1953

US GNP had doubled in the course of the war, and by the spring of 1945 America accounted for half the world’s manufacturing capacity, most of its food surpluses and virtually all international financial reserves. The United States had put 12 million men under arms to fight Germany and its allies, and by the time Japan surrendered the American fleet was larger than all other fleets in the world combined.

But there was more to American policy than innocence. The United States in 1945 and for some time to come seriously expected to extricate itself from Europe as soon as possible, and was thus understandably keen to put in place a workable settlement that would not require American presence or supervision. This aspect of American post-war thinking is not well remembered or understood today, but it was uppermost in American calculations at the time—as Roosevelt had explained at Yalta, the US did not expect to remain in occupation of Germany (and thus in Europe) more than two years at most.

The American defense budget was reduced by five-sixths between 1945 and 1947.

France’s initial position on the German problem was very clear, and drew directly upon the lessons of 1918–24: so much so, indeed, that to outsiders it appeared an attempt to re-run the script of the post-World War One years, only this time with someone else’s army.

The solution, as it emerged in French thinking in the course of the ensuing months, lay in ‘Europeanising’ the German Problem: as Bidault, once again, expressed it in January 1948: ‘On the economic plane, but also on the political plane one must . . . propose as an objective to the Allies and to the Germans themselves, the integration of Germany into Europe .

If the idea had not occurred to French leaders before 1948 this was not through a shortage of imagination, but because it was clearly perceived as a pis aller, a second-best outcome. A ‘European’ solution to France’s German problem could only be adopted once a properly ‘French’ solution had been abandoned, and it took French leaders three years to accept this. In those three years France had, in effect, to come to terms with the abrupt negation of three hundred years of history. In the circumstances this was no small achievement.

It had become clear—first to the British, then to the Americans, belatedly to the French and finally to the Soviets—that the only way to keep Germany from being the problem was to change the terms of the debate and declare it the solution. This was uncomfortable, but it worked.

Adenauer and Degaulle at signing of Élysée Treaty, 1964

Stalin knew better than most that World War Two had been a close run thing: if the Germans had invaded a month earlier in 1941 (as Hitler’s original schedule required) the Soviet Union might very well have folded. Like the USA after Pearl Harbor, but with rather better cause, the Soviet leadership was obsessed to the point of paranoia with ‘surprise attacks’ and challenges to its new-won standing.

Soviet prisoners of war, 1941

Molotov is surely telling the truth when he suggests in his memoirs that the Soviet Union preferred to take advantage of propitious situations but was not going to take risks in order to bring them about: ‘Our ideology stands for offensive operations when possible, and if not, we wait.’
In the West the prospect of radical change was smoothed away, not least thanks to American aid (and pressure). The appeal of the popular-front agenda—and of Communism—faded: both were prescriptions for hard times and in the West, at least after 1952, the times were no longer so hard.

Post-national, welfare-state, cooperative, pacific Europe was not born of the optimistic, ambitious, forward-looking project imagined in fond retrospect by today’s Euro-idealists. It was the insecure child of anxiety. Shadowed by history, its leaders implemented social reforms and built new institutions as a prophylactic, to keep the past at bay.

[B]asic food rationing in Britain only ended in 1954—long after the rest of western Europe...[but] as Sam Watson, the veteran leader of the Durham miners union, reminded the Labour Party’s annual conference in 1950: ‘Poverty has been abolished. Hunger is unknown. The sick are tended. The old folks are cherished, our children are growing up in a land of opportunity.’

(Get this fine book here.)

Tony explains everything

While in Europe I came across Postwar by the late Tony Judt.  All other activities stopped as I plunged in and read as much as I could...but man there's a lot of it.  After two days I was about a quarter of the way through the book.  "Tour de force" is a bit of understatement - the man seems to have known everything, and talked with everyone about the things he didn't know.  Here is his quick rundown on the Marshall Plan:
Between the end of the war and the announcement of the Marshall Plan, the United States had already spent many billions of dollars in grants and loans to Europe. The chief beneficiaries by far had been the UK and France, which had received $4.4 billion and $1.9 billion in loans respectively, but no country had been excluded—loans to Italy exceeded $513 million by mid-1947 and Poland ($251 million), Denmark ($272 million), Greece ($161 million) and many other countries were indebted to the US as well. 
But these loans had served to plug holes and meet emergencies. American aid hitherto was not used for reconstruction or long-term investment but for essential supplies, services and repairs. Furthermore, the loans—especially those to the major western European states—came with strings attached. Immediately following the Japanese surrender President Truman had imprudently cancelled the wartime Lend-Lease agreements, causing Maynard Keynes to advise the British Cabinet, in a memorandum on August 14th 1945, that the country faced an ‘economic Dunkirk’. Over the course of the following months Keynes successfully negotiated a substantial American loan agreement to supply the dollars that Britain would need to buy goods no longer available under Lend-Lease, but the American terms were unrealistically restrictive—notably in their requirement that Britain give up imperial preferences for its overseas dominions, abandon exchange controls and make sterling fully convertible. The result, as Keynes and others predicted, was the first of many post-war runs on the British pound, the rapid disappearance of Britain’s dollar reserves and an even more serious crisis the following year. 
The terms of the loan negotiated in Washington in May 1946 between the US and France were only slightly less restrictive. In addition to a write-off of $2.25 billion of wartime loans, the French got hundreds of millions of dollars in credits and the promise of low-interest loans to come. In return, Paris pledged to abandon protectionist import quotas, allowing freer entry to American and other foreign products. Like the British loan, this agreement was designed in part to advance the US agenda of freer international trade, open and stable currency exchanges and closer international cooperation. In practice, however, the money was gone within a year and the only medium-term legacy was increased popular resentment (much played upon by the Left) at America’s exploitation of its economic muscle.
By the spring of 1947, then, Washington’s bilateral approaches to Europe’s economic troubles had manifestly failed. The trading deficit between Europe and the US in 1947 would reach $4,742 million, more than double the figure for 1946. If this was a ‘hiccup of growth’, as later commentators have suggested, then Europe was close to choking. That is why Ernest Bevin, the British Foreign Minister, responded to Marshall’s Commencement Address by describing it as ‘one of the greatest speeches in world history’, and he was not wrong.
Marshall’s proposals were a clean break with past practice. To begin with, beyond certain framing conditions it was to be left to the Europeans to decide whether to take American aid and how to use it, though American advisers and specialists would play a prominent role in the administration of the funds. Secondly, the assistance was to be spread across a period of years and was thus from the start a strategic programme of recovery and growth rather than a disaster fund. 
Thirdly, the sums in question were very substantial indeed. By the time Marshall Aid came to an end, in 1952, the United States had spent some $13 billion, more than all previous US overseas aid combined. Of this the UK and France got by far the largest sums in absolute amounts, but the relative impact on Italy and the smaller recipients was probably greater still: in Austria, 14 percent of the country’s income in the first full year of the European Recovery Program (ERP), from July 1948 to June 1949, came from Marshall Aid. These figures were enormous for the time: in cash terms the ERP was worth about $100 billion in today’s (2004) dollars, but as an equivalent share of America’s Gross Domestic Product (it consumed about 0.5 percent of the latter in the years 1948–1951) a Marshall Plan at the beginning of the twenty-first century would cost about $201 billion.
Great book.


June 30, 2017

Service interruption

Due to his annual vacation to The Continent, The Other Front will not be posting for the next few weeks.


June 29, 2017

Or do I need the UN's permission for that, too?

Perfectly reasonable (if you are an incorruptible superman with superior moral judgment and a deep unshakeable commitment to advancing the cause of freedom and human dignity)

[W]e saw two admirable characters taking different sides as if ignoring the UN's pleas was a reasonable option.


June 25, 2017

"Thou art the man."

Loveday appreciates, on its literary merits, this story from 2 Samuel 11 and 12.  Loveday uses the King James text, which he says "deliberately matched style to content, and did not shy away from the heightened language suited to all seriousness, whether sacred or secular."

. . .  

When the passage begins [says Loveday], David has established his rule over both Israel and Judah. He has sent his troops to war, led by his faithful nephew and ‘fixer’ Joab; for unexplained reasons, David remains behind in Jerusalem. 

Chapter 11
2. And it came to pass in an evening-tide, that David arose from off his bed, and walked upon the roof of the king’s house: and from the roof he saw a woman washing herself; and the woman was very beautiful to look upon. 

3. And David sent and enquired after the woman. And one said, Is not this Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam, the wife of Uriah the Hittite? 

4. And David sent messengers, and took her; and she came in unto him, and he lay with her; for she was purified from her uncleanness: and she returned to her house. 

5. And the woman conceived, and sent and told David, and said, I am with child. 

6. And David sent to Joab, saying, Send me Uriah the Hittite. And Joab sent Uriah to David. 

7. And when Uriah was come unto him, David demanded of him how Joab did, and how the people did, and how the war prospered. 

8. And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet. And Uriah departed out of the king’s house, and there followed him a mess of meat from the king. 

9. But Uriah slept at the door of the king’s house with all the servants of his lord, and went not down to his house. 

10. And when they had told David, saying, Uriah went not down unto his house, David said unto Uriah, Camest thou not from thy journey? why then didst thou not go down unto thine house? 

11. And Uriah said unto David, The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents: and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields: shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, and as thy soul liveth, I will not do this thing. 

12. And David said to Uriah, Tarry here today also, and tomorrow I will let thee depart. So Uriah abode in Jerusalem that day, and the morrow. 

13. And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him: and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house. 

14. And it came to pass in the morning, that David wrote a letter to Joab, and sent it by the hand of Uriah. 

15. And he wrote in the letter, saying, Set ye Uriah in the forefront of the hottest battle, and retire ye from him, that he may be smitten, and die. 

16. And it came to pass, when Joab observed the city, that he assigned Uriah unto a place where he knew that valiant men were. 

17. And the men of the city went out, and fought with Joab: and there fell some of the people of the servants of David; and Uriah the Hittite died also. 

18. Then Joab sent and told David all the things concerning the war; 

19. And charged the messenger, saying, When thou hast made an end of telling the matters of the war unto the king, 

20. And if so be that the king’s wrath arise, and he say unto thee, Wherefore approached ye so nigh unto the city when ye did fight? knew ye not that they would shoot from the wall? 

21. Who smote Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth? did not a woman cast a piece of a millstone upon him from the wall, that he died in Thebez? why went ye nigh the wall? then say thou, Thy servant Uriah is dead also. 

22. So the messenger went, and came and shewed David all that Joab had sent him for. 

23. And the messenger said unto David, Surely the men prevailed against us, and came out unto us into the field, and we were upon them even unto the entering of the gate. 

24. And the shooters shot from off the wall upon thy servants; and some of the king’s servants be dead, and thy servant Uriah the Hittite is dead also. 

25. Then David said unto the messenger, Thus shalt thou say unto Joab, Let not this thing displease thee, for the sword devoureth one as well as another: make thy battle more strong against the city, and overthrow it: and encourage thou him. 

26. And when the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband. 

27. And when the mourning was past, David sent and fetched her to his house, and she became his wife, and bare him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the Lord.

Chapter 12 
1. And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said to him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. 

2. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds: 

3. But the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had bought and nourished up: and it grew up together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. 

4. And there came a traveller unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man’s lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him. 

5. And David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man; and he said to Nathan, As the Lord liveth, the man that hath done this thing shall surely die; 

6. And he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity. 

7. And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man.

I don't know exactly what spiritual lesson to take from this story.  I do know, however, that the first time I am wronged on Monday I am going to say "oh, now the Uriah the Hittite treatment, eh?" or "you are treating me like Uriah the Hittite!" or "what am I?  Uriah the Hittite?!"... I'm still working on exactly how I'll phrase it.  But this I vow:  Uriah the Hittite will get his solid innings come Monday.

June 24, 2017

You say that like it's a bad thing

Imagine Dragons tend to wear matching outfits and shout choruses in malevolent unison and whack giant drums, like a musclebound Jock Jams version of Arcade Fire.