The John Batchelor Show

Sunday 12 May 2013

Air Date: 
May 12, 2013

Photo, above:  The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution (Gwo yu: Wénhuà Dàgémìng), was a socio-political movement that took place in the People’s Republic of China from 1966 through 1976. Set into motion by Mao Tse-tung, the Revolution was launched in May 1966. Mao alleged that bourgeois elements were entering the government and society at large, aiming to restore capitalism. He insisted that these “revisionists” be removed through violent class struggle. China’s youth then responded to Mao’s appeal by forming Red Guard groups around the country. The movement then spread into the military, urban workers, and the Communist Party leadership, itself. It resulted in widespread factional struggles in all walks of life. In the top leadership, it led to a mass purge of senior officials who were accused of deviating from the socialist path, most notably Liu Shao-chi and Teng Hsiao-ping (Deng Xiaoping). During the same period, Mao’s personality cult grew to immense proportions. By the end, between fifty and seventy million Chinese people had died from starvation and depredations – the most massive horror of the Twentieth Century.  SEE: Hour 3, Block C, Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds by Ping FU. 


Hour One

Sunday  12 May 2013 / Hour 1, Block A: Stockpile: The Story Behind 10,000 Strategic Nuclear Weapons by Jerry Miller (1 of 2)  In 1960 there were some 3,500 strategic nuclear weapons in the United States, and by the mid-1970s there were more than 10,000. This book, written by a member of the U.S. nuclear weapons force, gives an account of that buildup and the efforts taken to keep the stockpile under control. Jerry Miller highlights the strategies, targeting and attack plans, and arms control measures associated with the bomb. He addresses the role of the military in establishing requirements and the role of scientists in meeting those requirements and identifies the weapons' strengths and weaknesses and their significance for the future. A final chapter reviews threat scenarios and suggests actions to bring the nuclear force into line.

Vice Adm. Jerry Miller, USN (Ret.), was a nuclear weapons delivery pilot and a nuclear plans monitor who helped prepare the National Strategic Target List and Single Integrated Operational Plan for waging nuclear war. Following retirement, he participated in arms control meetings with the Soviets. He lives in Oakton, VA.

 “As an eyewitness account of the decisions and of the decision makers, this book will be indispensible for anyone doing advanced research on the subject.”   — Parameters, Autumn 2011

"Stockpile, a well-informed memoir by retired U.S. Navy Admiral Jerry Miller, exposes one of the most secretive issues in defence affairs, nuclear targeting, providing insight into the mindset of American targeters during the Cold War."  —Survival, August/September 2011

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 1, Block B:  Stockpile: The Story Behind 10,000 Strategic Nuclear Weapons by Jerry Miller  (2 of 2)

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 1, Block C: . Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic by Michael Scammell  (1 of 2) From the award-winning author Michael Scammell comes a monumental achievement: the first authorized biography of Arthur Koestler, one of the most influential and controversial intellectuals of the twentieth century. Over a decade in the making, and based on new research and full access to its subject’s papers, Koestler is the definitive account of this fascinating and polarizing figure. Though best known as the creator of the classic anti-Communist novel Darkness at Noon, Koestler is here revealed as much more–a man whose personal life was as astonishing as his literary accomplishments. 

Koestler portrays the anguished youth of a boy raised in Budapest by a possessive and mercurial mother and an erratic father, marked for life by a forced operation performed without anesthesia when he was five, growing up feeling unloved and unprotected. Here is the young man whose experience of anti-Semitism and devotion to Zionism provoked him to move to Palestine; the foreign correspondent who risked his life from the North Pole to Franco’s Spain, where he was imprisoned and sentenced to death; the committed Communist for whom the brutal truth of Stalin’s show trials inspired the superb and angry novel that became an instant classic in 1940. Scammell also provides new details of Koestler’s amazing World War II adventures, including his escape from occupied France by joining the Foreign Legion and his bluffing his way illegally to England, where his controversial novel Arrival and Departure, published in 1943, was the first to portray Hitler’s Final Solution.  Without sentimentality, Scammell explores Koestler’s turbulent private life: his drug use, his manic depression, the frenetic womanizing that doomed his three marriages and led to an accusation of rape that posthumously tainted his reputation, and his startling suicide while fatally ill in 1983–an act shared by his healthy third wife, Cynthia–rendered unforgettably as part of his dark and disturbing legacy.

Featuring cameos of famous friends and colleagues including Langston Hughes, George Orwell, and Albert Camus, Koestler gives a full account of the author’s voluminous writings, making the case that the autobiographies and essays are fit to stand beside Darkness at Noon as works of lasting literary value. Koestler adds up to an indelible portrait of this brilliant, unpredictable, and talented writer, once memorably described as “one third blackguard, one third lunatic, and one third genius.”

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 1, Block D:  Koestler: The Literary and Political Odyssey of a Twentieth-Century Skeptic by Michael Scammell  (2 of 2)

Hour Two

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 2, Block A:  . Jane Addams: Spirit in Action by Louise W. Knight  (1 of 2) In this landmark biography, Jane Addams becomes America's most admired and most hated woman—and wins the Nobel Peace Prize.  Jane Addams (1860-1935) was a leading statesperson in an era when few imagined such possibilities for women. In this fresh interpretation, the first full biography of Addams in nearly forty years, Louise W. Knight shows Addams's boldness, creativity, and tenacity as she sought ways to put the ideals of democracy into action. Starting in Chicago as a co-founder of the nation's first settlement house, Hull House—a community center where people of all classes and ethnicities could gather—Addams became a grassroots organizer and a partner of trade unionists, women, immigrants, and African Americans seeking social justice. In time she emerged as a progressive political force; an advocate for women's suffrage; an advisor to presidents; a co-founder of civil rights organizations, including the NAACP; and a leader for international peace. Written as a fast-paced narrative, Jane Addams traces how one woman worked with others to make a difference in the world. 32 black-and-white illustrations.

“Only superlatives like excellent and elegant can do justice to Louise W. Knight’s fine Jane Addams. Whether Addams was grass-roots organizing, founding Hull House, or fighting for women’s suffrage, she was always an indefatigable warrior. If there was any real fairness in this troubled world Addams would have won three Nobel Peace Prizes instead of one. Highly recommended.” — Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 2, Block B:  . Jane Addams: Spirit in Action by Louise W. Knight  (2 of 2)  “This book is as fine an introduction to the life and thought of Jane Addams as one is ever likely to read. Her internal growth as a world-class democrat, coupled with the many public causes with which she interacted, is so beautifully laid out that the reader sees vividly why Addams was, is, and remains an iconic figure in American history.” — Vivian Gornick, author of Fierce Attachments and The Men in My Life

“Louise W. Knight’s masterful biography of Jane Addams not only brings to life this remarkable crusader for peace and justice but serves as an eloquent reminder of the ideals for which she stood. Addams may be gone but with the publication of this spiritually imbued biography her dreams will live again and her life can be a model for yet another generation. To commemorate the 150th birthday of this icon of American decency and fairness, Knight’s biography is a book that begs to be given as a present to others.” — James McGrath Morris, author of Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 2, Block C:  . The Fort: A Novel of the Revolutionary War by Bernard Cornwell     Told by some, the American War for Independence was a string of victories interrupted only by one frigid winter in Valley Forge. Unfortunately, the real story was somewhat different. In his new tightly-threaded historical novel, Bernard Cornwell recaptures the chaos and distress of a misbegotten 1779 Patriot offensive on Maine's Penobscot River. With searing clarity, he etches living pictures of inexperienced colonial troops plagued by incompetent leadership and well-trained Redcoat soldiers and sailors. Stirring man-against-man battle scenes; betrayals, cowardice, and unexpected bravery. Carefully researched and well-executed historical military fiction.

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 2, Block D:  Rear Admiral Joseph F. Callo, USNR (Ret.) U.S. Naval Institute, in re: Horatio Nelson  (One of Adm Callo's books is Nelson Speaks: Admiral Lord Nelson in His Own Words.)

Hour Three

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 3, Block A:  American Avatar: The United States in the Global Imagination by Sanders, Barry A. (1 of 2)  . . . In reality, perceptions of the United States are complex and emotional, frequently contain internal contradictions, and often change quickly.  In American Avatar, Barry A. Sanders uses his extensive international expertise to examine the roots of people’s views of the United States and what can be done to alter them. He assesses two components that shape attitudes – an individual’s memory bank of images informed by American geography, people, philosophy, history, and foreign policy and a predisposition or bias that influences which images are called forth from such memories. He analyzes both anti-American and pro-American biases, but focuses on the former, explaining which criticisms should be heeded when crafting foreign policy and communicating national objectives to friends and foes alike.  Barry A. Sanders is an Adjunct Professor of Communication Studies at UCLA and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Pacific Council on International Policy. His background includes experience in international business law and cross border negotiation.

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 3, Block B:  . American Avatar: The United States in the Global Imagination by Sanders, Barry A. (2 of 2)   According to Sanders, an international business lawyer and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, the attitudes a person expresses about the United States consist of two components: the person’s memory bank of images and a bias that influences which images are recalled to express an opinion. Sanders analyzes anti-U.S. and pro-U.S. biases, explaining which criticisms should be heeded when communicating national objectives to friends and foes. He also offers a strategy for public diplomacy to help the United States navigate a world in which it must work collaboratively with other nations. He concludes that more than ever, national security will be impacted by foreign views.

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 3, Block C:  . Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds by Fu, Ping  (1 of 2) [Spectacular tale. –ed.]  Wikipedia: The book narrates the life of Ping Fu, a computer scientist from China. Fu spent her early years caring for her younger sister after her parents were taken away for re-education through labor, as well as working in factories and spending time in the military. After the end of the Cultural Revolution, Fu attended Suzhou Teacher's College, where she's later deported to the United States for the contents of her thesis. Once in America, Fu worked her way through college in a variety of jobs and eventually gained a BA in Computer Science & Economics through the University of California, San Diego. From there she worked for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications and later formed Geomagic.  Additional: Ping Fu's careful recounting of her recollections of life during Mao's Cultural Revolution has brought down on her head the wrath of current Chinese Communist Party hacks, who pay digital hirelings the rough equivalent of fifty cents a post to write pedestrian criticisms and flood American readers and publishers with clearly nonfactual complaints.  The acrimony of the PRC bureaucrats suggests that Ping Fu has hit a nail on the head.

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 3, Block D:   Bend, Not Break: A Life in Two Worlds by Fu, Ping (2 of 2) “Bamboo is flexible, bending with the wind but never breaking, capable of adapting to any circumstance. It suggests resilience, meaning that we have the ability to bounce back even from the most difficult times. . . . Your ability to thrive depends, in the end, on your attitude to your life circumstances. Take everything in stride with grace, putting forth energy when it is needed, yet always staying calm inwardly.” —Ping Fu’s “Shanghai Papa” Ping Fu knows what it’s like to be a child soldier, a factory worker, and a political prisoner. To be beaten and raped for the crime of being born into a well-educated family. To be deported with barely enough money for a plane ticket to a bewildering new land. To start all over, without family or friends, as a maid, waitress, and student. Ping Fu also knows what it’s like to be a pioneering software programmer, an innovator, a CEO, and Inc. magazine’s Entrepreneur of the Year. To be a friend and mentor to some of the best-known names in tech­nology. To build some of the coolest new products in the world. To give speeches that inspire huge crowds. To meet and advise the president of the United States. It sounds too unbelievable for fiction, but this is the true story of a life in two worlds. Born on the eve of China’s Cultural Revolution, Ping was separated from her family at the age of eight. She grew up fighting hunger and humiliation and shielding her younger sister from the teenagers in Mao’s Red Guard. At twenty-five, she found her way to the United States; her only resources were $80 in traveler’s checks and three phrases of English: thank you, hello, and help. Yet Ping persevered, and the hard-won lessons of her childhood guided her to success in her new home­land. Aided by her well-honed survival instincts, a few good friends, and the kindness of strangers, she grew into someone she never thought she’d be—a strong, independent, entrepreneurial leader. A love of problem solving led her to computer science, and Ping became part of the team that created NCSA Mosaic, which became Netscape, the Web browser that forever changed how we access information. She then started a company, Geomagic, that has literally reshaped the world, from personalizing prosthetic limbs to repair­ing NASA spaceships. Bend, Not Break depicts a journey from imprisonment to freedom, and from the dogmatic anticapitalism of Mao’s China to the high-stakes, take-no-prisoners world of technology start-ups in the United States. It is a tribute to one woman’s courage in the face of cruelty and a valuable lesson on the enduring power of resilience.

Hour Four

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 4, Block A:  Dirty Rotten Strategies: How We Trick Ourselves and Others into Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely (High Reliability... by Ian I. Mitroff and Abraham Silvers  (1 of 2) People and organizations are perfectly capable of making the most outrageous missteps. But, how does a person, organization, or society know that it is committing an error? And, how can we tell that when others are steering us down wrong paths?Dirty Rotten Strategies delves into how organizations and interest groups lure us into solving the "wrong problems" with intricate, but inaccurate, solutions. Authors Ian I. Mitroff and Abraham Silvers argue that we can never be sure if we have set our sights on the wrong problem, but there are definite signals that can alert us to this possibility.  While explaining how to detect and avoid dirty rotten strategies, the authors put the media, healthcare, national security, academia, and organized religion under the microscope. They offer a biting critique that examines the failure of these major institutions to accurately define our most pressing problems. For example, the U.S. healthcare industry strives to be the most technologically advanced in the world, but, our cutting-edge system does not ensure top-quality care to the largest number of people.  Readers will find that far too many institutions have enormous incentives to let us devise elaborate solutions to the wrong problems. As Thomas Pynchon said," If they can get you asking the wrong questions, then they don't have to worry about the answers."

From a political perspective, this book shows why liberals and conservatives define problems differently, and demonstrates how each political view is incomplete without the other. Our concerns are no longer solely liberal or conservative. In fact, we can no longer trust a single group to define issues across the institutions explored in this book and beyond.

Dirty Rotten Strategies is a bipartisan call for anyone who is ready to think outside the box to address our major concerns as a society—starting today.


Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 4, Block B:  Dirty Rotten Strategies: How We Trick Ourselves and Others into Solving the Wrong Problems Precisely (High Reliability... by Ian I. Mitroff and Abraham Silvers (2 of 2)

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 4, Block C:  Charles Hooper, Hoover, in re: Steve Jobs, marketing genius

Sunday 12 May 2013 / Hour 4, Block D:   Peter Burrows,  Bloomberg Businessweek, in re: Apple's new headquarters in Cupertino – "The Mothership"

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