Liberal or conservative?

A number of blogs recently published James Burnham‘s list (from his 1964 book “The Suicide of the West“) of questions that determine whether one is a “liberal” or not (in 1960’s terms, of course).  It’s a very interesting list, not least because today’s understanding of a political “liberal” is rather different from that of half a century ago.  Burnham wrote: A full-blown liberal will mark every one, or very nearly every one, of these thirty-nine sentences, Agree. A convinced conservative will mark many or most of them, a reactionary all or nearly all of them, Disagree. By giving this test to

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Quote of the day

From an article at Breaking Defense titled “Killer Angel On Your Shoulder: Army’s Future Armed Reconnaissance Aircraft“: “Nothing takes an enemy’s mind off shooting your aircraft like running him over with a tank.” Y’know, I can see how that might work! It’s an interesting article, discussing future aircraft, weapons and technology as the US Army seeks to develop its next-generation equipment and tactics.  Recommended reading. Peter

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What ails Main Street

A very interesting article analyzes some of the factors dragging down traditional retail businesses, and the cities and parts of cities that depend on them. Though it is human nature to look for the simplest explanation, in truth, the confluence of a half-dozen unrelated developments is responsible for weak retail sales. Americans’ consumption needs and preferences have changed significantly. Ten years ago we spent a pittance on mobile phones. Today Apple sells roughly $100 billion worth of “i-goods” in the U.S., and about two-thirds of those sales are iPhones. Apple’s U.S. market share is about 44%, thus the total smart mobile-phone market

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A blast from the past – naval history edition

The chase and sinking of the German battleship Bismarck was one of the highlights of naval combat in World War II.  Accompanying her for most of her maiden (and final) voyage was the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen, one of five ships of the Admiral Hipper class.  In her prime, she was a powerful and good-looking ship, as seen below. Prinz Eugen was captured by the Royal Navy at the end of the war, and handed over to the USA as part of war reparations.  She was used as a target in the 1946 nuclear tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific Ocean, and later sank in Kwajalein Atoll, where

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The Sun as a ribbon in the sky

NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day yesterday was this lovely image of the Sun’s analemma over Scotland during the past year. You can read more about it at the link. Also eye-catching is this video, courtesy of Daily Timewaster, showing four-year time-lapse footage of the explosion of star V838 Monocerotis between 2002 and 2006.  Watch it in full-screen mode for maximum impact. Things like that remind us of how truly insignificant humanity is, on a galactic and universal scale.  We aren’t even a speck of dust by comparison. Peter

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Tugboats at work

I grew up in Cape Town, South Africa, the so-called “Tavern of the Seas”.  Its harbor hosted vessels from all over the world as they made their way around the Cape of Good Hope.  It boasted several hard-working tugboats, busily bustling from berth to berth as they assisted with the docking and undocking of all sorts of ships.  Their crews and captains were mostly experts at their trade . . . with a few exceptions.  I’ve watched tugs come boiling up to a ship at what looked like a dangerously high speed, only to put their propellers into reverse and come to a

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History within four walls: the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico

Miss D. and I spent Tuesday night at the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, New Mexico. As a historic building, it’s fascinating, with authentic furniture, fixtures and relics of its past that are meat and drink to those interested in such things. The hotel was a major way station in northern New Mexico during the years of the so-called Wild West.  As Wikipedia notes: The St. James was first built in 1872, on the recommendation of U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant, by Henri (later Henry) Lambert, personal chef to President Abraham Lincoln. Lambert moved west and settled in Elizabethtown, New Mexico, with hopes

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Rules for guests in the Old West

Another interesting piece of historical information provided by the St. James Hotel in Cimarron, NM (which I reviewed yesterday) was this sheet of house rules from its early days.  It made me both laugh and shake my head.  Click the image for a larger view. I’m not sure how authentic some of those rules were, but they certainly have the flavor of the Old West.  As L. P. Hartley observed, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.” Peter

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Oops!

A brand-new container ship, the CMA CGM Mumbai, delivered from the shipyard in May this year, had an embarrassing steering failure at the port of Mumbai the other day.  It left a mark. Fortunately, the collision was at very low speed, but even so, it’ll take a while to repair the quayside and replace the ship’s stem post.  Embarrassing, that, particularly with a brand-new vessel. Peter

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Lessons learned from my latest trilogy

Over at Mad Genius Club, I’ve written a fairly long article outlining some of the lessons learned (so far) from the publication of my latest trilogy, “Cochrane’s Company“, at approximately 30-day intervals.   The article is oriented towards writers more than readers, but if the subject interests you, click over there to get a feel for the state of the independent author market today. While on the subject of the trilogy, may I once again ask those of you who’ve read it to please leave a review of each book on Amazon.com?  Reviews are the life-blood of independent authors, as

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