Dynamist Blog


This page has names, photos, and hometowns of American service members killed in the Iraq war. (Via Evan McElravy.) The list is updated as families are notified, so it's not complete. [Posted 3/24.]


Charles Oliver, who loves movies even more than I do, reports that Michael Moore was roundly booed by the Oscar audience. I didn't watch much of the ceremony, so I'll rely on his report.

Update: Jane Galt confirms the boos (but she didn't email me about them). [Posted 3/24.]


And now for a change of pace from war... My friend Britton Manasco responds to the item "Recycling Imagination" below:

Having spent the better part of a decade working with very creative tech execs, I have come to the simple conclusion that money often makes us stupid—and less creative. I believe that the real bursts of creativity are happening now—now that capital is so dear. Seems to me, the people who are not sitting on the sidelines waiting for recovery are now acting with incredible discipline and creativity to overcome the hurdles of today's economy. They are more actively addressing the needs of their customers—and they are more actively seeking ways to do more with less. Speaking as a customer myself, I have NEVER been treated so well.

By contrast, the plenitude of capital in the dotcom economy made us "stupid"—less creative relative to our available resources. Companies became self-absorbed as opposed to market-driven. They were creating things on the come instead of on-demand. They simply wanted to create stuff once and sell it many times instead of reaching out to a customer, building a relationship and then selling that customer many things, many times.

Now we see fewer self-styled visionaries. The VCs, who propped them up, have left the building. Nor do we see executives "checking out" after they have hit their IPO milestones—when they've gotten their "fuck you money," in other words.

Instead, I think the real creative missionaries come to life in down economies. They did in the late 80s/early 90s. They start to do the things we should have done all along. Take marketing. Instead of buying Super Bowl ads, for instance, they invest in cost-effective "guerilla-marketing" campaigns. In my opinion, it's more creative to do your marketing on a shoe-string than it is to hire some high-falutin' ad agency to create sock puppets.

No doubt, we had a burst of creative work during the dotcom boom—and much of it remains with us. The more relevant metric is how much creativity we get relative to a dollar invested in new companies, initiatives, products, services. By that measure, the dotcom economy was a bust—and, I believe, the present economy is actually far superior. I also believe we will see the flowers of this down-market creativity begin to bloom in the next 2-3 years. That's the stage the market cycle reaches its "optimal" state—somewhere between drought and decadence.

And if you don't want a change of pace from war, keep in mind that U.S. military superiority depends on a strong and technologically advanced economy. [Posted 3/23.]


"War Looks Longer than Expected" reads the headline on this LAT piece by Doyle McManus. The nut graf ("thesis paragraph" to non-journalists):

But now—after Iraqi forces have mounted stiff resistance in several cities, killing at least six Americans and taking at least five U.S. soldiers prisoner—the war is beginning to look longer and more costly than some Americans expected.

Who are these "some Americans" who expected a war shorter, and with fewer casualties, than the L.A. riots? Here's the story's answer:

A Gallup Poll of Americans produced for CNN and USA Today found that two-thirds of respondents said they expected the war to last less than three months; one-third said they expected it to be over within a month; and most thought that fewer than 100 Americans would be killed or injured. Those were significantly higher levels of optimism than the same pollsters found before the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

Yes, we're all more optimistic than we were before the Persian Gulf War, which began with post-Vietnam fears of tens of thousands of Americans dead and years of brutal fighting. But optimism is merely relative. And "less than three months" is not "less than three days."

What we saw today was that this is a real war. Nasty, brutal, and we can only hope, short. All we've been promised is victory—and that's a promise, among other things, to persist when things get tough. [Posted 3/23.]


Be sure to read Paul Berman's NYT Magazine piece on the writings of Sayyid Qutb, the philosopher/theologian behind the Islamism. Why doesn't somebody translate the rest of Qutb's work into English—quickly? (The Times site does include links to some resources on the web.) [Posted 3/23.]


"Are you as sickened as I am by the prospect of the Oscars tonight?" asks Andrew Sullivan. No, I'm not. If anything, I'm bummed to miss the fashion show. The movies are the great and enduring art of our civilization, the very civilization our soldiers are fighting to defend. The pleasure of the movies is as legitimate in wartime as it is in peace. Sure, the movie stars are mostly geopolitical idiots. But the Oscars celebrate their art, not their politics. Leave the attacks on pleasure to the Islamofascists, Andrew. Hollywood is their enemy, not ours. [Posted 3/23.]


This story certainly matches my experience with the op-ed page, under a previous regime. They don't call it the Gray Lady for nothing. (Via Andrew Sullivan.) I guess graying down visitors' prose makes up for the regulars', uh, zestiness. [Posted 3/21.]


Ed Driscoll nominates an actual Apple user, who's equally well-known by his first name, to replace John and Yoko. [Posted 3/21.]

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