Sunday, March 18, 2012

Ranking of Secretary of States (US)

(In brackets is the President they served under)

I have some reservations about this list but its worth looking at:

1. William Seward(Lincoln)
2. George Marshall(Truman)
3. Thomas Jefferson(Washington)
4. John Q Adams(Monroe)
5. Henry Kissinger(Nixon,Ford)
6. Colin Powell(George W Bush) - seems too high
7. Condi Rice (George W Bush) - way too high
8. James Madison(Jefferson)
9. James Monroe (Madison)
10. Madelaine Albright(Clinton) - too high
11. Daniel Webster(Harrison,Tyler, Filmore)
12. George Shultz(Reagan) - too low
13. Henry Clay (John Q Adams)
14. James Baker (Bush I)
15. John Hay (T Roosevelt)
16. Dean Rusk(Kennedy)
17. John Foster Dulles(Eisenhower)
18. Dean Acheson(Truman)
19. Cordell Hull(FDR)
20. Hilary Clinton (Obama) - yeah right

Great Rivals in History

Joseph Cummins wrote an incredible book on some of the Great Rivalries in History. The work is detailed and easy to read and is available at Amazon. (isn't everything).

Rivalries documented are:

Alexander the Great and Darius III
Hannibal vs Scipio Africanus
Juilius Caesar vs Pompeius
King Henry II vs Thomas Becket
Richard I vs John
Pope Boniface VIII vs Philip IV
Pizarro vs De Almagro (Conquistadors)
Elizabeth I vs Mary Queen of Scots
Charles XII vs Peter the Great
Benedict Arnold vs Horatio Gates
Aaron Burr vs Alexander Hamilton
Napoleon vs Wellington
Earol of Lucan vs Earl of Cardigan (Crimean War)
Disraeli vs Gladstone
Pancho Villa vs Emiliano Zapata (Mexico)
Hitler vs Rohm
Stalin vs Trotsky
Chiang Kai-Shek vs Mao
Chuikov vs Paulus (Battle of Stalingrad)
Patton vs Montgomery
Truman vs Macarthur
Giap vs De Casteries (Battle of Dien Bien Phu)
Kennedy vs Nixon

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Mantra of a Classical Liberal

I have over the course of my life studied the role of history and its impact on the human condition. What I present in point like form are some of my insights and realizations. My challenge has always been one of finding clarity and in this regards .

1. I am best described as a classical liberal in that I champion democracy, human rights, private ownership of property, investigative science, free enterprise, meritocracy, high levels of education, the rule of law and a complete openness to discussion and debate within society.
2. I believe that Western Civilization, while not a pinnacle of all that there is, represents an advanced state of the human condition. I will make no apologies for this position as to do so generally invokes the odious philosophy of cultural relativism.
3. I appreciate religion as a system of ethics but believe that it should be divorced from the functioning of the state.
4. It is critical that the leadership of the great Western nations guard themselves against the forces of barbarism that threatens it.
5. While Western Civilization represents an advanced state in the history of our species it is still incumbent on the civilization’s institutions to learn from the other great cultures viz. Sino-Japanese, Latin American, Slavic, Hindu etc.

In summary: When a society loses the essence of what makes it special it loses the essence of what makes it great.

Challenges to Western Civilization

The march toward human betterment in Western Civilization has been opposed by various force-dynamics or barbarisms. Some of these force-dynamics have been products of the outside world others were creations from within. The following is a list of such force-dynamics. (All are problematic, some have been overcome but others remain as an epidemic that future generations will have to deal with.)

· Feudalism – Ended by the Renaissance, the Age of Exploration, early urbanization and the birth of the modern economy;
· The Domination of the Totalitarian Church – Eventually Eclipsed by the Reformation, the Enlightenment and the Rise of Reason and Science;
· Powers of the Aristocracy – Ended by both the violent and non-violent bourgeoisie revolution, liberalism and nationalism;
· Fascism – Defeated by the Western Democracies in World War II;
· Communism – Defeated by the Economic Machine of the United States;
· Islamism – A struggle that still continues;
· Post Modernism – A challenge in progress – a consequence of intellectual nihilism and misguided cynicism;
· Greed Capitalism – A dangerous but age old phenomenon that still survives.

On Good Science

Good Science is the pursuit of knowledge derived from questioning. It is science that looks at a phenomenon and attempts to elucidate its workings through rational thought and empirical investigation. It strives to be as objective as possible in its process. Conclusions are eventually drawn following the thorough analysis of evidence but the conclusions must not extend beyond the assumptions that so defined the research.

There is no single scientific method but there are broad procedures that extend from the initial observation, through hypothesis to the investigation, analysis and the subsequent conclusion(s) for any inquiry.

Scientists are not guardians of truth, but agents of clarification that peel away the fog of noise in an attempt to model more accurately the workings of the world. They are of course free to philosophize and speculate about the significance of their findings (something I call the extended objective) but these speculations should not overwrite (or even overextend) the mandate of their original research.

Scientists must understand the limits of their findings which ultimately calls for an appreciation of the boundaries of their respective disciplines. Science is not a religion, nor should it be vaunted a such, however it is the best tool that we humans have of understanding the material world. It is indeed very powerful but it is ultimately confined to the milieu of matter/energy.