Leo Tolstoy and Robert Gates on Hierarchical Orgnization

https://i1.wp.com/www.biographyonline.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/leo-Tolstoy_18564.jpg“Thanks to Anna Mikhaylovna’s efforts, his own tastes, and the peculiarities of his reserved nature, Boris had managed during his service to place himself very advantageously. He was aide-de-camp to a very important personage, had been sent on a very important mission to Prussia, and had just returned from there as a special messenger. He had become thoroughly conversant with that unwritten code with which he had been so pleased at Olmutz and according to which an ensign might rank incomparably higher than a general, and according to which what was needed for success in the service was not effort or work, or courage, or perseverance, but only the knowledge of how to get on with those who can grant rewards, and he was himself often surprised at the rapidity of his success and at the inability of others to understand these things. In consequence of this discovery his whole manner of life, all his relations with old friends, all his plans for his future, were completely altered. He was not rich, but would spend his last groat to be better dressed than others, and would rather deprive himself of many pleasures than allow himself to be seen in a shabby equipage or appear in the streets of Petersburg in an old uniform. He made friends with and sought the acquaintance of only those above him in position and who could therefore be of use to him. He liked Petersburg and despised Moscow. The remembrance of the Rostovs’ house and of his childish love for Natasha was unpleasant to him and he had not once been to the Rostovs since the day of his departure for the army. To be in Anna Pavlovna’s drawing room he considered an important step up in the service, and he at once understood his role, letting his hostess make use of whatever interest he had to offer. He himself carefully scanned each face, appraising the possibilities of establishing intimacy with each of those present, and the advantages that might accrue. He took the seat indicated to him beside the fair Helene and listened to the general conversation.”  — Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace


https://i.ytimg.com/vi/z-I0F79U7NQ/hqdefault.jpg“A more merit-based, more individualized approach to officer evaluationscould also do much to combat the risk-averse, zero-defect culture that can take over any large, hierarchical organization.  One that too often incentivizes officers to keep their head down, avoid making waves, or disagree with superiors.  The Army has been fortunate throughout its history to have officers who, at critical times, exercise respectful, principled dissent.  Men like General George Marshall, who rose to high rank and greatness even as he told blunt truths to superiors ranging from Blackjack Pershing to Franklin D. Roosevelt.  But no doubt that takes courage, and entails real risk, especially given the current system. In an article for Military Review following his tenure as a corps commander in Iraq, General Chiarelli suggested that, while the opinions of an officer’s superiors should hold the most sway, it’s time that the Army’s officer evaluations also consider input from peers and, yes, subordinates – in my view the people hardest to fool by posturing, B.S. and flattery.”   –Robert Gates, 2011 West Point Speech

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Advice to China: Heroic Abstention from War is Path to Victory

bertrand-russellIt is not unlikely that the great military nations of the modern world will bring about their own destruction by their inability to abstain from war, which will become, with every year that passes, more scientific and more devastating. If China joins in this madness, China will perish like the rest. But if Chinese reformers can have the moderation to stop when they have made China capable of self-defence, and to abstain from the further step of foreign conquest; if, when they have become safe at home, they can turn aside from the materialistic activities imposed by the Powers, and devote their freedom to science and art and the inauguration of a better economic system—then China will have played the part in the world for which she is fitted, and will have given to mankind as a whole new hope in the moment of greatest need. It is this hope that I wish to see inspiring Young China. This hope is realizable; and because it is realizable, China deserves a foremost place in the esteem of every lover of mankind.

Russell, Bertrand. The Problem of China. London: George Allen & Unwin LTD, 1922

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Secrets of the West


There have been only a few very rare periods in human history, and a few very sparse regions, in which spontaneous progress has occurred. There must have been spontaneous progress in Egypt and Babylonia when they developed writing and agriculture; there was spontaneous progress in Greece for about 200 years; and there has been spontaneous progress in Western Europe since the Renaissance. But I do not think there has been anything in the general social conditions at these periods and places to distinguish them from various other periods and places in which no progress has occurred. I cannot escape from the conclusion that the great ages of progress have depended upon a small number of individuals of transcendent ability. Various social and political conditions were of course necessary for their effectiveness, but not sufficient, for the conditions have often existed without the individuals, and in such cases progress has not occurred. If Kepler, Galileo, and Newton had died in infancy, the world in which we live would be vastly less different than it is from the world of the sixteenth century. This carries with it the moral that we cannot regard progress as assured: if the supply of eminent individuals should happen to fail, we should no doubt lapse into a condition of Byzantine immobility.

Russell, Bertrand. “Western Civilization.” In Praise of Idleness. London and New York: Routledge, 2006

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The primary aims of government should be security, justice and conservation

irusseb001p1The primary aims of government, I suggest, should be three: security, justice, and conservation. These are things of the utmost importance to human happiness, and they are things which only government can bring about.

Russell, Bertrand. Authority and the Individual. London and New York: Routledge, 2010

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Carlin’s comment on China’s Bullying Culture

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What the Tortoise said to Achilles shows the nature of implications.

The reason Tortoise couldn’t stop hypothesizing is that an implication never asserts its constituent propositions.


A. P is true.

B. if P is true then Q is true, (P implies Q).

B only asserts the implication.  Even if both P and Q are false, B can still be true. One is tempted to say there is an implicit hypothesis C which asserts that A  and B together imply Q:

C. If P is true and P implies Q, then Q is true.

But C, as an implication, can be true regardless whether A,  B, or Q are true or not. One is tempted to say A, B, C together implies Q:

D. If A is true, B is true and C is true than Q is true.

Since D, again, can be true by itself and insufficient to reach Q, one would say A, B, C, D together implies Q. Thus the Tortoise’s regression.

The root of the problem is that, in all the newly accepted hypotheses, Q is never asserted. Each hypothesis only asserts the implication. An implication only asserts the relation of what proposition logically follows a given proposition. An implication does not assert the constituent propositions. That is why each hypothesis can be true by itself yet still insufficient to move any closer to Q.

In order to stop the regression, we need to distinguish inference from implication. An inference deduce one true proposition from another true proposition instead of simply imply one unasserted proposition from another unasserted proposition.

*1.1 and *1.11 in PM is the primitive idea that converts asserted implications into inferences:

*1.1 Anything implied by a true elementary proposition is true. Pp

Notice that *1.1 and *1.11 are not hypotheses. They are general statements and whatever inference can be made in virtue of *1.1 or *1.11 has already been contained by *1.1 or *1.11. In other words, the inference discovers nothing new and asserts nothing that has not been asserted by *1.1 and *1.11.  *1.1 and *1.11 simply help the reader to “see” particular cases. Take the Tortoise’s case for example:

(A) Things that are equal to the same are equal to each other.

(B) The two sides of this triangle are things that are equal to the same.

(Z) The two sides of this triangle are equal to each other.

Both A and B are true means this is a particular case of *1.1. Since 1.1 is a general assertion that asserts all its individual cases, we know Z is asserted.

Another example illustrates that 1.1 is not a hypothesis:

A. Pigs Fly.

B. If Pigs Fly then I am pope.

C. If pigs fly and pigs fly implies I am pope then I am Pope.

Z. I am Pope.

Both B and C assert only implications that are true and can hold on its own but, nevertheless, assert none of its constituent propositions. Since A is false, A and B together does not make a case that belongs to the class of cases asserted by 1.1, thus Z cannot be accepted.


Russell, Bertrand. §38. The Principles of Mathematics. New York. London: W.w. Norton & Company, 1996

Alfred North Whitehead. Russell, Bertrand. *1.1. Principia Mathematica 1st ed. Merchant Books, 1910

Carroll, Lewis. What the Tortoise Said to Achilles. Mind, 1895.

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China vs. Japan from American perspective

Let snarks fight snarks.

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Is the war inspired by hate or by profit?

If it is inspired by hate, then it is pointless. If it is inspired by profit, then war will render it unprofitable.

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If we can forgive ourselves, we can forgive everyone

1948 Siege of Changchun: The Communist army starved 150,000 civilians to death.

“Changchun was like Hiroshima,” Zhang wrote. “The casualties were about the same. Hiroshima took nine seconds; Changchun took five months.”

Source: http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19901122&slug=1105487


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董坚毅。哈佛大学博士,52年回国,55年支援大西北。57年被定为右派送夹边沟劳教。60年饥荒袭来,董亦不能幸免。其妻顾晓颖(也为留美生)来探视, 待寻得其遗体时,周身皮肉已被割食一空,仅剩头颅挂在骨架之上。夹边沟劳教人员2800多人,饿死2100多人,死难者掩埋草率,累累白骨外露绵延两公 里。



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