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1. I found a recent post at Roots of Progress to be on the long side, but well worth the time. The post is primarily a collection of excerpts from the memoir of Vannevar Bush, head of U.S. military research during World War II.

Here is one of my favorites, which comes from the first section, "On Invention:"
VB.jpg
Vannevar Bush (Image by OEM Defense, via Wikimedia, public domain as a work of the United States Government.)
An invention has some of the characteristics of a poem. Standing alone, by itself, it has no value; that is, no value of a financial sort. This does not mean that inventions -- or poems -- have no value. It is said that a poet may derive real joy out of making a poem, even if it is never published, even if he does not recite it to his friends, even if it is not a very good poem. No doubt one has to be a poet to understand this. In the same way an inventor can derive real satisfaction out of making an invention, even if he never expects to make a nickel out of it, even if he knows it is a bit foolish, provided he feels it involves ingenuity and insight. An inventor invents because he cannot help it, and also because he gets quiet fun out of doing so. Sometimes he even makes money at it, but not by himself. One has to be an inventor to understand this.
Incredibly, the above quote does not do justice to the post. Bush -- as one might expect from someone who integrated the work of countless inventors and teams of engineers, while (circum)navigating bureaucracy during a war -- has equally penetrating insights or shows qualities worth pondering in many other areas, as the groupings of the excerpts would indicate:
  • On Invention
  • On Leadership and Management
  • His Communication Style
  • On Society, War, and Politics
  • On the Spirit We Need
There are also a couple of interesting vignettes from his career.

But the best part of the post is that it is no mere teaser for an out-of-print, hard-to-get book. Jason Crawford notes that the book is once again widely available, and provides the obligatory Amazon link.

2. At Value for Value, Harry Binswanger discusses "What People Don't Understand About Inflation," starting with the misconception that people are unhappy to pay higher prices.

Along the way to proving his point are some worthwhile connections, among them:
One causal factor can counteract another. And that has been the story, I believe, for the last 20 years: technology's expansion of production has kept pace with the government's expansion of the fiat money. The result has been: little price inflation -- but with several other bad consequences, including a lower rate of progress.

Recently, however, the harm done by trillions showered down as "Covid relief" plus the decline in output due to shutdowns have overwhelmed technology's advance.

Despite the shutdown's interruption of production, the main cause of price inflation today is government's monetary expansion. The money supply has maybe doubled (it's nearly impossible to find any exact data), and the decline in production has been bad but not that bad. Remember, the U.S. government sent out thousands in the mail to virtually everyone. Plus there's the Fed's expansion through the banking system -- which has been required to keep interest rates near zero for years and years.
One tentative conclusion I draw from the post is that the price inflation we have suffered after the Trump-Biden monetary inflation might indeed be temporary -- if governments overall can resist further massive cash infusions. (But don't ask me to predict how long it might take for prices to stop rising.)

Watch for politicians who know nothing, have learned nothing, and certainly won't deserve praise -- to take credit if that happens.

3. At New Ideal, Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Institute takes a much-needed look at the surprisingly widespread, but ridiculous belief that Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping are "charismatic and capable":
While Donald Trump was in office, he was one of Putin's superfans and apologists. Trump has described the Ukraine invasion as "genius," later praising Putin for having "taken over a country for $2 worth of sanctions."

This is a severe misreading, and the most obvious evidence can be seen in the battlefields of Ukraine. The reputedly formidable Russian military has struggled against courageous Ukrainians fighting in self-defense. It can also be seen in the extraordinary scale and extent of international sanctions imposed on Russia. But this misreading goes deeper than a strategy that backfired. [links in original]
Notably, there is an outstanding quote by pianist Evgeny Kissin regarding how Putin's War (and likely years of his misrule) could have been avoided simply by the West having done what it's doing now in Ukraine at any number of earlier, very similar points.

4. Brian Phillps of the Texas Institute for Property Rights comments on conservative attacks on freedom of speech being made in the name of freedom of speech:
Ironically, conservatives fought for repeal of the Fairness Doctrine, which forced broadcasters to air both sides of an issue. The repeal of that regulation allowed Rush Limbaugh, as well as other conservatives, to express his views without sharing his microphone with those he disagreed with. Today, conservatives are fighting to apply their version of the Fairness Doctrine to social media companies. They want to force social media companies to allow ideas with which they disagree. The Fairness Doctrine was wrong when it was applied to broadcasters, and it will be equally wrong if it is applied to social media companies.
Almost as ironic, the Republican party has often been happy to pose as defenders of property rights, which they are also attacking when they go after "censorship" (which it isn't) by "big media."

-- CAV

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