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Category: Robert Farley

Crowdsourcing WWI

[ 10 ] April 23, 2014 |

This is an interesting project:

One hundred years after the beginning of World War I, the British National Archive has launched an ambitious project to sift through and classify its vast trove of records from that world-spanning conflict.

It’s asking everyday people to help. Operation War Diary is a collaboration between the Archive, the Imperial War Museum and crowdsourcing Website Zooniverse. The effort aims to mobilize an army of amateur historians….

The problem is, there are far too many documents for War Museum agents or other physical visitors to the Archive to have any realistic chance of doing useful curating. Even after the Archive digitized the Great War collection, the Museum still needed help.

Lintott and Smith’s Op War Diary connects the vast war archive to Zooniverse’s legions of armchair researchers. Sitting at their laptops, Zooniverse users can read a few random WO/95s after work or on the weekend.

They add a bit of metadata specifying what kind of information is in the old documents—names, dates and places. Those data tags make it much, much easier for authors, academics and lay readers to find the war diaries they actually want to read.

This is just the beginning of the process; once reviewed, there’s a process for vetting competing or contradictory tags. Should help make the archive considerably more useful for scholars.

Thank You!

[ 21 ] April 22, 2014 |


First, let us thank everyone who has donated to LGM over the past year. I’ve tried to write individual thank you notes, but may have missed someone. We deeply appreciate your contributions. We also appreciate it when someone takes the time to buy a copy of one of our books, or buys a t-shirt, or purchases a textbook through one of our Amazon links, or whatever else.

We’ve been doing this for almost ten years now, and while the financial rewards are certainly higher than we anticipated in 2004, they aren’t high. Overhead is generally low, although taxes, accounting, and business fees take a bite. We have long maintained a commitment to ensuring that everyone who writes for LGM (including guest posters), receives financial compensation, however small that compensation may be. This is to say that if you do choose to donate, the gift makes it way with very few rest stops to the people who actually maintain and write for the site on a daily basis.


Thank you,

Lawyers, Guns and Money

Foreign Entanglements: #TFC14 Revisited

[ 4 ] April 21, 2014 |

On this week’s episode of Foreign Entanglements, Kelsey Atherton and Daveed Gartenstein-Ross discuss Iron Man, Galactus, and contemporary defense policy:


[ 92 ] April 20, 2014 |

Happy Easter, if you’re into that sort of thing. At the Farley household we’re celebrating with Cadbury Mini-Eggs, which for my money are the best Easter-related product available.

And also bourbon, of course. If anyone knows any good Resurrection-related cocktails, tell us in comments…

Passover in the Confederacy

[ 127 ] April 19, 2014 |

Interesting stuff on Jewish practice in the Confederacy:

For many American Jews today, particularly those descended from immigrants coming through Northeast corridors in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the idea that Confederate Jews fought on the side of slavery offends their entire worldview, rooted so deeply in social justice. Even the idea of there being so many Jews in the American South, decades before Ellis Island opened its gates, is a strange idea.

But just as Robert E. Lee, an Army officer for 32 years, sided with his home state of Virginia against the federal government, many Jews found a homeland in Dixie over the centuries and decided they could not take up arms against it. To them, after all they’d suffered and fled throughout the ages, the South was their new motherland, the land of milk and honey (and cotton), and it was worth fighting for. “This land has been good to all of us,” one Jewish-German Southerner wrote. “I shall fight to my last breath…”

And on Northern anti-semitism:

While the South, like everywhere else, did exhibit anti-Semitism, many Southern Jews felt the North was more deeply anti-Semitic. Popular Northern newspapers denigrated Jews; Harper’s Weekly said that all Jews were secessionists, copperheads and rebels. Other papers blamed the Jews for destroying the national credit. Union general Ulysses S. Grant exhibited the greatest bigotry of all when he issued General Orders No. 11 in December 1862, “the most sweeping anti-Jewish regulation in all of American history,” according to Rabbi Bertram W. Korn. The orders called for the expulsion of all Jews within 24 hours from Grant’s territory at the time, which included parts of Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi.

Grant and his men believed Jews were solely responsible for the common practice of illegal trade with the enemy – a forbidden but economically necessary practice. Some Jews did engage in such illicit commerce, but so did a lot of people on both sides. To add to the offensiveness of the order, Union soldiers forced Jews from their homes, confiscated their possessions, denied them rail transportation even as they were being evicted from their towns, revoked trade licenses and imprisoned them. A few weeks later, when Lincoln found out about the order, he revoked it — “I do not like to hear a class or nationality condemned on account of a few sinners,” he said.

Down with ICBMs!

[ 60 ] April 18, 2014 |

Some nukey thoughts at War is Boring:

America’s nuclear weapons are getting old. More to the point, the submarines, rockets and planes that deliver the nukes are rusting away.

Designed during the Cold War, all three legs of the sea-, air-, and land-based nuclear “triad” need replacement fairly soon. The means spending potentially hundreds of billions of dollars on new subs, bombers and ballistic missiles to replace today’s Ohio-class boats, B-2 and B-52 bombers and Minuteman missiles.

That’s hundreds of billions of dollars we can’t afford. A sane reform strategy would consider a seemingly drastic move—entirely eliminating one leg of the triad.

Problem is, the triad holds almost religious significance for nuclear weapons theorists. In the 1950s, analysts worried that a surprise Soviet atomic strike would knock out nearly all of the Air Force’s nuclear-capable bombers.

It’s a Carrier!

[ 56 ] April 16, 2014 |

I display some frustration:

As an educator, I can attest to some frustration in relating to students that the United States operates ten aircraft carriers, plus another nine ships that we would refer to as aircraft carriers if they served in any other navy.  And while I appreciate the desire of analysts to differently categorize the capabilities of Wasp and Nimitz-class carriers, I wish that people had a firmer grasp on the abject silliness of claiming that a 45,000 ton flat-decked aircraft-carrying warship is not, in fact, an aircraft carrier. Think of the children.

The Archive Project Continues…

[ 16 ] April 15, 2014 |

I’ve now finished restoring the March 2005 archive.  In fairness, the last few days of 3/2005 had survived the changeover, and I’d restored some of the posts in an earlier iteration of this project.  In any case, some stuff of interest from the earliest days of LGM:

It was a very good month. As the April 2005 archive is already complete, I’m now finishing up with June 2004.

It Would Simplify F-35 Acquisition Decisions…

[ 125 ] April 14, 2014 |

And thanks to Putin, we now have a template to make this happen:

Put together, the United States and Canada would be a colossus, with an economy larger than the European Union’s—larger, in fact, than those of China, Taiwan, Japan and South Korea combined. We would control more oil, water, arable land and resources than any jurisdiction on Earth, all protected by the world’s most powerful military.

Far-fetched? Maybe. But consider this: Two Canadian prime ministers – one after the First World War and another after the Second World War – seriously considered proposing a merger with the United States. They did not proceed for political reasons.

I’m very much looking forward to the seizure of important government buildings in Vancouver and Toronto by pro-American “activists,” followed by sketchy referenda…


Diplomat Podcast: Away with Ye, USAF!

[ 7 ] April 11, 2014 |

Yesterday I recorded a podcast with two of my editors from The Diplomat on abolishing the Air Force. Give it a listen!

Foreign Entanglements: Potpourri

[ 0 ] April 10, 2014 |

On this week’s episode of Foreign Entanglements, Matt and I talk stuff.  In particular, we discuss the idea of Israeli B-52s…

B-52s for Israel, Revisited

[ 37 ] April 10, 2014 |

At War is Boring, I extend my remarks on the proposal to send B-52s to Israel a bit:

“B-52s for Israel,” as we’ve dubbed it, is a silly little proposal with approximately zero chance of actually being implemented. And it’s possible Deptula and Makovsky don’t even mean for anyone to take its details seriously.

Their bomber idea could be part of a media game of sorts, one that certain political constituencies are playing in order to broadly influence policy, rather than comprise policy.

But just for fun, let’s consider “B-52s for Israel” as a sober proposal.

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