Links 7/15/09

Australia seeks new army robots BBC

Shaken Baby Baloney Independent Accountant

Managers doomed to repeat the mistakes of history John Kay, Financial Times. On the perils of running companies by the numbers, with McNamara and the Whiz Kids as object lessons.

How long will China finance America? Robert Peston

Calpers Sues Over Ratings of Securities New York Times (hat tip reader Scott)

China’s Foreign-Exchange Reserves Top $2 Trillion Bloomberg

Insurers aghast at new accounting rules Eurointelligence

WaPo: Surveying the flaming wreckage John Quiggin.

Meet the Cast of the Sotomayor Hearings Adam Server, American Prospect

Coalition to attack plan for Fed powers Financial Times

June Retail Sales in Perspective EconomPic Data

Antidote du jour:

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  1. Richard Kline

    Regarding the self-immolation of the Washington Post, the newsprint media blames changing times for their woes. I would counter-argue that good journalism and clear thought always draws an audience. It was the newsprint industry which abandoned the public for the neather regions of the right wing. Since most of these papers repudiated their reason for being—informing a wider audience on what is actually happening in their society behind the surface—it is they who failed themselves. The right wing noise machine only talks to itself, even if it disseminates by all channels: tune it out.

  2. DownSouth

    Robert McNamara failed to grasp what Annonymous Jones pointed out yesterday, and that is that people don't always, and perhaps seldom do, act rationally.

    This is the point that Daniel Yankelovich, Amitai Etzioni and Reinhold Neibuhr try to drive home. As Daniel Yankelovich wrote, McNamara's "objectist strategy utterly failed to give those responsible for our nation's policies a proper sense of the issues and how to deal with them."

    Any serious student of human behavior would not make the same errors that McNamara did.

    The availability, management, and control of natural resources were certainly determinig factors in the formation and development of ancient communities; but it is no less important to recognize that such a complex adaptive human experience is never simply an outcome of economic activity or utilitarian purposes. Day-to day existence and the long process of culural evolution are much more than relentless competitions for goods and material survival, for there are also other subltle patterns at work. The lift of mountains, the path of the sun, the rebirth of the seasons, the migration of animals, and the legends of earlier life provide many sources–seen and unseen–that inspire the creation of myths, the invention of symbols, and the rhythm of festivals, giving shape to basic patterns of thought. A sense of order and place is deeply interwoven with the human need to understand the beginning of things, explain the embracing design of nature, and conduct individual and collective activities in accord with the regular, predictable cycle of life, death, and renewal. The pragmatic business of obtaining food went hand in hand with the making of a culturally meaningful habitat.
    –Richard F. Townsend, Ancient West Mexico: Art and Archeology of the Unknown Past

    The ideaology embraced by McNamara was that science and objectivism could somehow allow us to rise above societies like those of ancient west Mexico. This has proven to be a pipe dream, as human nature always seems to find a way to reassert itself.

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