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Category: Robert Farley

The Ideas Industry and the Academy

[ 3 ] April 28, 2014 |

Tomorrow, I’ll be presenting at the Ideas Industry conference at the Fletcher School, Tufts University. I believe I was invited because I lack ideas and need some more.  I’ll be live-tweeting from @drfarls, hashtag #FletcherIdeas.

Southern Kentucky Book Festival

[ 28 ] April 27, 2014 |

So a new thing with a new book is the book festival circuit. This last weekend, I was invited to the Southern Kentucky Book Festival, in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  Because Bowling Green is home to the Corvette production line, I probably saw more Corvettes in two days than I’d seen so far in my life.

The festival itself involves authors sitting at tables, with a stack of books, waiting to speak with people who might be interested.  In this case, attendance was driven by the presence of Charlaine Harris and CJ Redwine. I sold nary a book, although I did have a couple long conversations with potential buyers.

The best part was meeting cool people with interesting books; Virginia Morell (Animal Wise), Jerry Martin (Soldiers Saving Soldiers), David Bettez (Kentucky Marine), Sam Ford (Spreadable Media), Tad Hills (Duck and Goose), Amy Christine Parker (Gated), and especially Angela Correll (Grounded).

Wait; what’s that last?

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I also learned a fair bit about the industry; how authors approach editors and agents, which presses to avoid like the plague, etc. Altogether a positive, interesting experience.

Grift Here, Grift There, Grift Some More…

[ 61 ] April 27, 2014 |

The Tea Party: All about separating angry old people from their money.

A Washington Post analysis found that some of the top national tea party groups engaged in this year’s midterm elections have put just a tiny fraction of their money directly into boosting the candidates they’ve endorsed.

The practice is not unusual in the freewheeling world of big-money political groups, but it runs counter to the ethos of the tea party movement, which sprouted five years ago amid anger on the right over wasteful government spending. And it contrasts with the urgent appeals tea party groups have made to their base of small donors, many of whom repeatedly contribute after being promised that their money will help elect conservative politicians.

Out of the $37.5 million spent so far by the PACs of six major tea party organizations, less than $7 million has been devoted to directly helping candidates, according to the analysis, which was based on campaign finance data provided by the Sunlight Foundation.

And the Deep Sea is Very Cold Indeed

[ 27 ] April 27, 2014 |

Five best submarines of the Cold War?  I’m on it.

But the greatest true submarine campaign never (or only intermittently) went “hot.” Waged with advanced, streamlined submarines, hunting each other from the polar ice cap to the Eastern seaboard, the Cold War undersea “game” lasted for over three decades. In case of real war, these submarines would safeguard (or destroy) NATO’s trans-Atlantic lifeline, and would protect (or sink) much of the nuclear deterrent of America, Russia, Britain, and France.

So what were the best submarines of the Cold War era? For the purposes of this list, we’re excluding ballistic missiles submarines or boomers, which have an entirely different mission from attack boats, built for different requirements. Instead, this list will focus on submarines optimized for killing surface ships or other submarines. The criteria should be familiar from previous lists; to what extent did the vessels perform its strategic mission at a price that its nation could afford?

Upsides of a New Cold War!

[ 18 ] April 25, 2014 |

Lots of pretty pictures of Bears. See also here for a slightly older

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HUD shot.


[ 21 ] April 23, 2014 |

My latest at the Diplomat:

Is an Asian NATO possible?  Before answering that, we need to think about what we mean by “NATO.”  If we mean a military alliance designed to deter or repel a large regional aggressor, then some sort of agreement triggering military action under certain circumstances might be possible.  If we mean “NATO” as we have come to understand the activist collective security organization, then we have a long way to go.

America’s Most Enduring Monument to Failure

[ 92 ] April 23, 2014 |

Wrigley Field turns 100! 

The Friendly Confines turn 100 years old today, on the anniversary of the first game Chicago’s Federal League team played there in 1914. The Cubs moved in two years later; the ivy was planted and the outfield bleachers installed in 1937. The place has been a mecca of baseball ever since. Wrigley’s history isn’t exactly pretty: it is now officially 100 years absent a championship, and the Cubs haven’t won so much as a National League pennant in nearly seven decades. Wrigley is marked more by despair — curses of Billy Goats and Bartman and god knows what else — than it is by anything other than hope that the next season will be better.

Has any venue in the history of modern professional sports witnessed such an egregious litany of failure? If the Cubs were a nuclear power plant, they’d be a Chernobyl; if they were a fighter plane, they’d be the Brewster Buffalo; if there were an NFL draft bust, they’d be Ryan Leaf; if they were an American President, they’d be James Buchanan. I suspect that the misplaced adoration of Cubs “fans” for the Wrigley Relic has played some role in this hapless history, leading to a “Hell, why bother putting a decent product on the field” attitude in team management. If the few actual baseball fans of the north side of Chicago had any sense, they’d march on Wrigley and burn it to the ground.

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

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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!

[ 22 ] 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

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any good Resurrection-related cocktails, tell us in comments…

Passover in the Confederacy

[ 128 ] 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.

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