January, 2009

Some Books I Read In January

January 31, 2009 @ 3:17 pm · Filed under Culture

The Painter of Battles: A Novel. Perez-Reverte’s latest and darkest of novels.

Inside Hitler’s Bunker: The Last Days of the Third Reich A collection of four essays dealing with the events around the fall of Berlin and the death of Hitler.

In the Bunker with Hitler: 23 July 1944-29 April 1945. Despite being an eyewitness account, adds almost nothing to our knowledge of the last days of Hitler.

The Halo Effect: … and the Eight Other Business Delusions That Deceive Managers. Great book on how a company’s success colors the analysis of it’s strengths and weaknesses.

Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton. Classic book on how logistics controls military success and failure.

The Road to War: The Origins of World War II. Series of essays that, country by country, describes the path to war. Very good chapters on France and England.

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The More Things Change …

January 31, 2009 @ 9:22 am · Filed under Reality

The following was written in the 1930s:

“The general shape of this universal delusion [that is, credit] may be indicated by three of its familiar features.. First, the idea that the panacea for debt is credit.. The burden of Europe’s private debt to this country now is greater than the burden of her war debt; and the war debt, with arrears of interest, is greater than it was the day the peace was signed.. Debt was the economic terror of the world when the war ended. How to pay it was the colossal problem. Yet you will hardly find a nation, state, city, town or region that has not multiplied its debt since the war. The aggregate of this increase is prodigious, and a very high proportion of it represents recourse to credit to avoid payment of debt.

“Second, a social and political doctrine, now widely accepted, beginning with the premise that people are entitled to certain betterments of life. If they cannot immediately afford them.. nevertheless people are entitled to them, and credit must provide them.. Result: Probably one half of all government, national and civic, in the area of western civilization is either bankrupt or in acute distress from having over-borrowed according to this doctrine.. Now as credit fails and the standards of living tend to fall from the planes on which credit for a while sustained them, there is political dismay.. When [people] have been living on credit beyond their means the debt overtakes them. If they tax themselves to pay it, that means going back a little. If they repudiate their debt, that is the end of their credit. In this dilemma the ideal solution, so recommended even to the creditor, is more credit, more debt.

“Third, the argument that prosperity is a product of credit, whereas from the beginning of economic thought it had been supposed that prosperity was from the increase and exchange of wealth, and credit was its product.”

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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Boy’s In A Band!

January 28, 2009 @ 5:16 pm · Filed under Reality

A picture from a time much longer ago than I care to remember:


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Wheels of Steel by Saxon

January 23, 2009 @ 1:43 pm · Filed under Culture

I used to play this song over and over and over. Come to think of it, I still do.

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Some History I Read Over My Christmas Vacation

January 4, 2009 @ 2:00 pm · Filed under Culture

The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy. Definitive account of the Nazi economy.

Chief Culprit: Stalin’s Grand Design to Start World War II (Blue Jacket Bks). Convincingly argues that Stalin was planning an offensive against Germany timed for late 1941.

Chamberlain and the Lost Peace. About as good a case as can be made defending Chamberlain’s foreign policy.

Hitler and Appeasement: The British Attempt to Prevent the Second World War. Good assessment of the politics of appeasement in the 1930s.

The Abolition of Britain: From Winston Churchill to Princess Diana. Overly nostalgic, but biting attack on what new labor has wrought.

Hitler’s Panzers East: World War II Reinterpreted. Argues that Hitler could have won the war in the East by concentrating on Moscow. Neglects logistics and ultimately unconvincing.

There’s actually a thread that connects all these, and I’ll write a longer post on the subject later.

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English Curry Recipe

January 2, 2009 @ 7:41 pm · Filed under Reality

I made an English curry with the leftover roast beef from Christmas the other day. It’s important to stress the English part of this recipe: it’s not Indian. As the Wikipedia points out:

Curry powder is a mixture of spices of widely varying composition developed by the British during their colonial rule of India.

The word “Karhee” or “Kadhi” from which “curry” is derived, comes from Southern India and refers to a sauce of any kind. “Curry powder” was developed by the British, who wished to take the taste of Indian food home, without having to utilize fresh spices. As a result “curry powder” in the Western world has a fairly standardized taste, but there are literally millions of curry flavors in India.

My mother used to make this all the time with leftover meat when I was a child, so I thought I would do the same. Here’s the recipe:

Chop up one large onion, and two large apples (peeled and cored). Saute them in a pot in oil with a lot of Madras curry powder. Add a lot of chopped up leftover roast beef, lamb or chicken, and continue to saute until the onions are well done. Add a bunch of water and simmer for 20 minutes, or until you have a thick soup.

Serve over rice with chopped bananas, raisins, peanuts, shredded coconut, and Major Grey’s Chutney on the side.

It will get hotter over time, so if it is spicy when you first make it, it will be spicier tomorrow.

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