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  • Archive for February, 2005

    New Boy

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Welcome to David Foster of the excellent Photon Courier, who has graciously agreed to blog with us.

    Posted in Announcements | 8 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 28th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Bottom line is: the world has changed, we’re not living in the fifties anymore and when a tyrant is kicked out, no other tyrant can claim his place. Why? Because nothing can be done behind closed doors anymore, the whole world can watch and have a say in almost everything everywhere and the era when thugs could reach power against a nation’s choice is over. The world has simply changed and the change cannot be reversed.

    -Omar

    Posted in Middle East | 6 Comments »

    The ’60s: Feh (Counterpoint on Hunter Thompson)

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th February 2005 (All posts by )

    James, Captain Mojo and Lex have weighed in with eloquent posts about the late Hunter Thompson. I encourage you to read them if you haven’t. Lex is particularly insightful about where Thompson fit in the big social and political picture of the 1960s.

    I confess to reading one of Thompson’s books and maybe a few articles, and to having read quite a bit about him over the years. He was brilliantly insightful in his day but didn’t seem to change much subsequently. I found him personally unattractive (and I seem not to be alone). It’s too bad he died but the muted burst of ’60s nostalgia that accompanied his passing got under my skin. ’60s nostalgia is a bit like humidity: frequently present, usually cloying and we’d be better off without it. It comes with qualifiers — yes, the war was bad, but the music was good; yes, the riots were bad, but people really got in touch with each other; yes, the drug culture was destructive, but there was real freedom of speech without today’s stifling political correctness. And so on. I always thought that most of this talk was either after-the-fact rationalization or coded nostalgia for high and licentious times. I think it was generally a lousy period. Many people disagree.

    Lex and I were going back and forth on this topic by email. He announced that “it is time for post-revisionsism on the 60s,” and asserted that it was an age of “glorious music, terrific economic performance, beautiful automobiles, heroic achievements (space, civil rights) disastrous public policy, riots, our worst war.” This got me riled up and I responded that the ’60s were

    More negative than positive. The music and pop culture were crap (sorry), the economy that boomed in the early 60s ended in a major and prolonged recession, stock market crash and inflation. The cars were stylish but far inferior to modern ones. The clothes and other fashions were ugly. Moral confusion was epidemic. The seeds of today’s academic anti-intellectualism were sown. The hippie drug culture was a shadow of earlier youth cults. I can’t fucking stand hippies, or for that matter anybody who would rather dope up and look in the mirror than learn about the world. The 60s were full of that kind of thing. The hubris of the hippies was at least as bad as that of the technocrats and generals. I think you are excessively nostalgic for that which you almost experienced. I am a few years closer to having experienced it, or at least to having seen some of it, and I think it mainly sucked.

    There were some pretty bad wars too, not just Vietnam: India and Pakistan, the Nigerian civil war. Not to mention the Soviet suppression of the Czechs. And as I mentioned in a comment on the blog, most of the civil-rights progress was made before the 60s. During the 60s the civil-rights organizations started their long march to the leftist fringe, having achieved most of what could be achieved by govt.

    [Tom] Wolfe was being kind to his old friend — de mortuis etc. Thompson was washed-up long ago and only stayed in the public eye because of boomer nostalgia and his outlandish behavior, not his ideas, which were tired and foolish.

    Lex was apparently still in ’60s mode when he read this, because he responded that it was “raw and vital” and that I should post it on the blog. OK. That was a couple of days ago, and as I reread my email it seems a bit overdone, but only a bit. The 1960s were not as destructive as the 1930s, but they were a period during which the nation lost ground in many ways. We are still repairing some of the damage. (Would Saddam Hussein have invaded Kuwait in 1990 if we had not abandoned Vietnam in 1975 after mishandling the war in the 1960s?) Most people don’t think of cars and music first when they think of the 1930s. Part of the problem with some people’s opinions about the ’60s is that their nostalgia for the funky lightweight stuff overrides more-serious appraisal of the period.

    Posted in Society | 15 Comments »

    Anticipating “Internet Fame”

    Posted by Jonathan on 26th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Michael Blowhard speculates:

    Are there lessons to be drawn from the episode? It seems likely to me that kids growing up with the Web are going be wrestling with at least one stark choice: does it 1) make more sense to maintain total control over your photographs and videotapes? Or is it 2) more economical (and entertaining) to say “What the hell,” put it all out there, and enjoy whatever consequences ensue?

    And why do I suspect that we’ll be seeing a lot of people opting for Choice Number Two?

    Just as sensitive online communications that are currently safely encrypted may one day, after technological advances, become public, it may be that someone will eventually develop an effective Internet search engine for images (i.e., one based on something like facial recognition, rather than text as is currently the case). If that happens, a lot of the images that were put on the Internet before anybody expected them to be searchable will become searchable. Photos posted long ago, without accompanying text information, will no longer reliably remain obscure. This is as much true for photos that someone else took of you as it is for your own uploads. The implications for learning about other people in great detail are obvious, though the extent to which this will be a problem will not become clear until we get there.

    Michael posits that kids growing up in the new age will face disclosure dilemmas, and they may. But I think it’s at least as likely that most people growing up now and in the foreseeable future will take the lack of privacy for granted. It’s the people now alive who grew up before the Internet who may have the hardest time, because there’s a lot of information out there about many of them that they once assumed would forever remain private.

    If you don’t want an image or document to become widely known in the far future, don’t transmit it by or post it on the Internet.

    Posted in Internet | 2 Comments »

    Kind of Like the “Girls Gone Wild” Videos, Except Really Wild

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 26th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Last year I wrote this post, where I expressed doubt that the people who claim to have taught apes sign language are legit. The main reason why I smelled a rat was due to the reluctance of the researchers to allow outside observers who could sign interact with the apes.

    Now there’s this news story. It seems that Francine Patterson, the head of the Gorilla Foundation, told three female employees at different times to bare their breasts. She claimed that Koko, the most famous of the signing gorillas, was requesting it.

    Two of the employees were fired and filed suit against the Foundation. The third employee actually figured that stripping for the ape was the only way to keep her job, so she flashed some chest. Now she’s signed on as co-suer.

    You know, that’s the first time I’ve ever heard of where something like this worked. (If the suit has merit and isn’t some bizarre attempt at free money, that is.) Usually saying that it’s your dog who wants to get a gander at the goods results in a slapped face. There’s going to be a run on exotic animal pet stores as frat boys buy up the country’s monkey population.

    The second thing that occurs to me is that it was Ms. Patterson who was telling the three women what Koko wanted. None of them could understand ASL and tell what the ape was trying to say, even though they were entrusted to work in the closest proximity to the star attraction.

    Makes me wonder.

    I wonder why, if it’s Koko and not Ms. Patterson with the breast fetish, why they don’t just get her an Internet connection and a credit card number. Seems it would be cheaper than a lawsuit.

    Posted in Law | 3 Comments »

    Incredible!

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 25th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Here’s a webpage that claims to have color photos from WWI. It looks reasonably legit from what I can see, but I can’t say for sure.

    Click on over and have a look.

    UPDATE
    Reader Paul Stinchfield has sent me two links where WWI color photos may be found. They are this one and this one.

    If you’re interested in looking over a huge online archive of French photographic pioneers, then I suggest that you click this link and start browsing. Lots of stuff there.

    (Hat tip to Spoons, and he got from Vodkapundit.)

    Posted in War and Peace | 10 Comments »

    C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Posted by Ginny on 25th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Book TV Schedule, on C-SPAN 2.

    This Sunday Q&A (8:00 p.m. and again 11:00) on C-SPAN 1 features Michael Steele, the Republican Lt. Governor of Maryland.

    At After Words on BookTV (Sunday at 6 & 9)

    William Hague, member of Britain’s Parliament and former Leader of the Conservative Party discusses his first book titled, “William Pitt the Younger.” It’s the biography of the man who in 1784 at the age of twenty-four became the youngest Prime Minister in the history of England. Mr. Hague is interviewed by Martin Turner, Washington Bureau Chief for the BBC.

    BookTV highlights (at 7:00 Saturday evening) a “State of Science Journalism” panel, with Nick Gillespie, Sally Satel, Ronald Bailey and Chris Mooney.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Schedules | Comments Off

    Consilience: Shannon & Lit Crit

    Posted by Ginny on 25th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Shannons discussion has been remarkably fruitful. Several contemporary scholars in fields influenced by evolution have noted the inconsistency she describes; rather than rejecting Darwin they have applied his insights, ones honed in evolutionary psychology, to the humanities. Harold Fromms “The New Darwinism in the Humanities” (Hudson Review.com) is a useful introductory bibliographic essay. This link to Hudson Review includes both Part I: From Plato to Pinker from Spring 2003 and Part II: Back to Nature Again from Summer 2003. Fromm spends much time on Pinkers The Blank Slate which was then climbing the best-seller lists.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 20 Comments »

    The Left and Evolution

    Posted by Shannon Love on 24th February 2005 (All posts by )

    I was educated as a biologist and evolutionary theory remains an intellectual interest of mine. I spent many hours in my youth arguing with “scientific” creationists. These hours were largely spent educating the creationists on the actual theory they were criticizing, or debating the finer philosophical points of scientific methodology. I eventually gave up due to pure frustration because in the end creationists believe what they believe as a matter of faith. You can’t argue somebody out of his faith.

    So this post over at Powerline pointing to a biology professor who is denouncing the Powerline guys for being idiots because one of them doesn’t believe in evolution grabbed my attention .

    Creationists are exasperating because they never study evolutionary theory in any detail. Since they start with the unshakable presumption that the theory is wrong, they can never actually honestly analyze the theory and therefore can never understand it in any depth. They just skim over the theory looking for points that confuse them and then pronounce the misunderstood points as fatal flaws within the theory itself.

    Frankly, most creationists’ knowledge of evolutionary theory boils down to, “them scientist fellas what says we alls comes from monkeys!”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Science | 71 Comments »

    A View From the Past

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd February 2005 (All posts by )

    Damascus Gate, Old City of Jerusalem (c. 1939)

    I came across this one while scanning some family photos and thought it would be nice to share it.

    UPDATE: Here are some views of the same place in other years:

    1879

    1940 (Note the URL.)

    1964

    1992

    Recent

    Posted in History | 10 Comments »

    The Rueda Report on the ‘European Union Code of Conduct on Arms Exports’

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 23rd February 2005 (All posts by )

    My post below mentions a Code of Conduct that needs to be implemented to make a lifting of the EU’s arms embargo somewhat more palatable for the United States. The EU will have to work very hard at creating and enforcing a Code that is worth more than the paper it is written on, though, for the existing Code simply doesn’t work:

    Although officially the European Parliament’s hands are tied regarding armaments questions, parliamentarians increasingly see it as their duty to comment on controversial developments. This criticism has now been made into a 26-page report by Spanish Parliamentarian Raul Romeva Rueda.

    Rueda’s report took issue with the EU’s code of conduct for weapons sales, which is supposed to provide a set of ethical guidelines for countries to follow. However, the document, which was created in 1998, is not legally binding. The European Parliament is overwhelmingly in favor of changing that.

    “The main problem with the code of conduct is that it is a very weak instrument,” Rueda said.

    The code of conduct sets a series of minimum standards for arms exports. Those include stipulations that no weapons should be sold to countries that might use them to abuse human rights. Weapons are also not to go to countries where regional conflicts are taking place, or where weapons purchases will further poverty in the population.

    “Some of the equipment being sent to countries is torture equipment, or equipment that is being used to apply the death penalty,” he said. “You have electric sticks, for instance, that is sometimes used by some police to force confessions.”

    (Emphasis mine)
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Europe | 4 Comments »

    The EU arms embargo on China: An overview

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 23rd February 2005 (All posts by )

    This is not good:

    The European Union announced on Tuesday that it intends to bring its 16-year arms embargo against China to an end, much to the regret of visiting US President George W. Bush.

    US President George W. Bush expressed “deep concern” on Tuesday about European Union plans to lift an arms embargo on China, saying that it might upset relations between Beijing and Taiwan. His concerns alone are unlikely to be enough to stop the EU from pursuing its goal of ending its ban on arms sales to the People’s Republic.

    “With regard to China, Europe intends to remove the last obstacles to its relations with this important country,” French President Jacques Chirac announced after talks with President Bush.

    Chirac maintained that the embargo, imposed in 1989 after the brutal suppression of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement, was no longer justified but the EU would ensure its abolition did not change the strategic balance in Asia. He noted that US allies Canada and Australia did not have such restrictions on arms sales to Beijing.

    I agree with Lex that it would be a very bad idea to lift the EU’s arms embargo on China, but I disagree that Europe would be acting as an enemy of America if it did so. For if the EU really were an enemy it wouldn’t have imposed the embargo after the massacre in Tiananem place in the first place. The motive is greed, not hostility, and also some serious political considerations. The point is, Britain supports the lifting of the embargo, too:

    UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has defended plans to end the European Union’s arms embargo on China, despite opposition from the US and Japan.

    China has in the past said it sees the weapons ban as politically driven, and does not want it lifted in order to buy more weapons.
    Mr Straw, speaking at a joint news conference with Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, stressed this point.
    “The result of any decision [to lift the arms embargo] should not be an increase in arms exports from European Union member states to China, either in quantitative or qualitative terms,” Mr Straw said.
    Earlier this week he said he expected the embargo to be lifted within six months.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 21 Comments »

    Do Not Watch the Hand that Appears to be Moving

    Posted by Lexington Green on 23rd February 2005 (All posts by )

    Bush goes to Europe. He makes nice. Why not? Mark Steyn puts it well. When the stakes are low, the rhetoric is most soaring. This gets lots of media coverage. The media say, Bush is trying to “mend fences”. No. Bush is there for American domestic political consumption. It is all gesture.

    Nothing concrete will happen. The Europeans will continue to do everything they were going to do — most importantly, sell arms to China. In other words, say nice words, and act as our enemies when it comes to action. OK, fine. Be like that.

    Meanwhile, getting almost no coverage, huge and important changes are afoot on the other side of Eurasia.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 54 Comments »

    Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, Writer, 1939 (?) – 2005

    Posted by Lexington Green on 23rd February 2005 (All posts by )

    James and Captain Mojo both weighed in on Hunter Thompson. I started to leave a comment and it got real long, so I’m putting it here.

    Rather than celebrating or excoriating the hippies, I think I can at least make a few excuses for them. I’m a very late Boomer, b. 1963. The older brothers of kids on my street, a few of them, were hippies. I remember a van across the street with a lot of psychedelic paint on it.

    The rebellion was mostly against “the system”, which at that time was basically big government liberalism allied with big business, it was managerialism, not conservatism, which was being rebelled against. This dread of a gray, boring, managed, planned system gave rise to all kinds of rebelliousness. I think the basic impetus to rebel against this Orwellian vision was healthy at its base. Hunter Thompson and Abbie Hoffman, Timothy Leary, and certainly Jimi Hendrix and many other iconic figures of that age were much more anarchical individualists than coherent socialists of any kind. They didn’t have policy proposals, they had an attitude. I can’t really hate such people, or not much.

    Don’t forget that the Conservative movement got its start as a mass movement at the same time, and was pretty much rebelling against the same thing, though based on a different understanding of freedom. Barry Goldwater’s movement was in large measure a youth movement, too, after all. In those days, the middle was to the left, and the rebellion came from the right and the far left. Ayn Rand was ragingly popular around this time for similar reasons. People felt their freedom was in danger, in one way or another. And not just their freedom, their lives.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd February 2005 (All posts by )

    Posted in Humor | 5 Comments »

    Selling the Right to Immigrate to the USA

    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd February 2005 (All posts by )

    That’s what Gary Becker suggests. I think he makes a good case.

    Posted in Society | 18 Comments »

    I hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone… but…

    Posted by Captain Mojo on 21st February 2005 (All posts by )

    I must disagree somewhat with my co-blogger James Rummels earlier post on the cultural importance of Hunter S. Thompsons works.

    Those whove read my stuff in the past know that Ive always been more than a little influenced by HST. For those of us who enjoy strong drink and occasional forays into the domain of high weirdness, the good doctor provided a vocabulary to describe the vague and sometimes horrible recollections of lost evenings. His prose could be simultaneously fascinating and stupid, hilarious and repugnant, right and wrong.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters | 15 Comments »

    Even-Handed Nonsense

    Posted by Mitch Townsend on 21st February 2005 (All posts by )

    Cathy Young frustrates me. She can bang out an opinion piece that usefully frames moral and political issues, so that even those who disagree have to incorporate bits of her arguments to support their own. Her current column in Reason, for example, is worthwhile reading. It points out how neither the left nor the right has been able to resist enacting its moral programs as law, and neither is content to leave peaceable citizens alone.

    She also wrote an infuriatingly wrong-headed column about The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History and its alleged support in conservative circles – “gushing praise,” no less, drawing a comparison with the Ward Churchill affair. The book itself, which I do not intend to read, seems to be mostly well-known paleo-conservative stuff. The controversial part is the author’s advocacy of the Southern cause in the Civil War, including that it was not fought primarily to abolish slavery (this is news?). His assertion that the defeat of the South was a tragedy for American liberty was once the received wisdom in some parts of the country, but has been renounced by mainstream conservatives for some forty years or more.

    The only source she cites for this “gushing praise” is Hannity and Colmes. The transcript is here on Lew Rockwell’s blog (Rockwell seems to approve). Read it and judge for yourself. The author, Thomas E. Woods, Jr., let loose some stinkers without Sean Hannity calling for ventilation, but that’s hardly “gushing praise.” Even Alan Colmes went after Woods for his denial that the New Deal rescued the American economy, and his assertion that it was wartime spending that ended the Depression (again, not news). The book is a featured selection of the Conservative Book Club, but the member reviews there can be scored as one gushing, two flushing.

    So what do authentic conservative and libertarian voices say about this man and his book? Hmm, Obsidian Wings has nothing nice to say, and says it well. Instapundit files Woods under “i” for Idiotarian. The Claremont Institute gives the book no praise. In the Weekly Standard, Max Boot applies the eponymous footwear where it does the most good.

    Far from repeating the Ward Churchill nonsense with the sides reversed, we wingnuts look pretty good in comparison. Remember Trent Lott? This is not a bug, it’s a feature.

    Posted in Politics | 5 Comments »

    Linking to Another Blog

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 21st February 2005 (All posts by )

    Just in case you’re not familiar with her work, Megan McArdle writes under the nom de blog as Jane Galt. Her work can be found at Asymmetrical Information.

    Megan recently posted a few items that I think would be of interest to our readers. The first is entitled “Why can’t mothers find part time work?”, and it’s pretty insightful. Megan points out that there’s plenty of part time jobs out there, they’re just not top-flight careers that pull in $100K or more a year. The reason why employers don’t seem willing to help working mothers stay on the high powered career path is due to good reasons.

    Megan follows this up with “More on the tenure track”, something that should be of interest to Ginny.

    Megan ends with an untitled post where she makes the observation that academia is pretty much shooting itself in the foot by making such a big deal out of Larry Summers’s remarks.

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 1 Comment »

    Hunter S. Thompson is Dead

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 21st February 2005 (All posts by )

    Many people compared the recent elections to the anti-war movement in the 1960′s, and with good reason. The raw emotion that the Left displayed in 2004 pretty much mimicked what they went through in 1968.

    America was going through some wild times back then, and the people who were at the forefront of most of the social changes tried to grab on to too much too fast. The so-called “counter culture” threw itself behind anything that would horrify conservatives. Some of these causes such as women’s lib, the environment and equal rights were long overdue for a hearing in US consciousness. Others such as rampant sexuality, avoidance of responsibility and drug use probably shouldn’t have been as fervently embraced.

    One of the people who perfectly encapsulated the mind set of the time was Hunter S. Thompson, who committed suicide yesterday.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Diversions | 1 Comment »

    Russia’s role in helping the Iranian nuclear program is mostly ignored

    Posted by Ralf Goergens on 20th February 2005 (All posts by )

    This has largely gone without comment in the blogosphere:

    MOSCOW (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Friday he was convinced Iran was not trying to build a nuclear weapon and that Russia would press ahead with nuclear cooperation with the Islamic Republic.

    Putin’s defense of Iran, where Russia is building a nuclear power plant, comes in the face of U.S. concerns that Tehran could be using Russian know-how to covertly build a nuclear weapon.

    “The latest steps by Iran convince Russia that Iran indeed does not intend to produce nuclear weapons and we will continue to develop relations in all sectors, including peaceful atomic energy,” Putin told Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rohani.

    “We hope Iran will strictly stick to all agreements with Russia or the international community,” Putin said at the start of talks with Rohani at the Kremlin.

    The United States has criticized Moscow for pressing ahead with construction of a 1,000-megawatt reactor at Bushehr in southern Iran.

    Russia’s top nuclear officials are due to travel to Iran next week to finalize the final technicalities of its start-up later this year.

    The question of Russia’s nuclear ties with Iran is certain to figure in a summit between Putin and President Bush in the Slovak capital Bratislava on Feb. 24.

    Most bloggers have so far concentrated on the negotiations France, Germany and Great Britain are conducting with Iran, in the hope of preventing the country from arming itself with nuclear weapons. The fact that Iran wouldn’t even have the capability of doing so without Russian help is rarely mentioned. I hope that this summit will change that, and also that Bush can persuade Putin to cut that crap out.

    Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

    New and Improved

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th February 2005 (All posts by )

    I just did some work on the photoblog to make it easier to navigate. Not that I’m pimping for hits or anything.

    Posted in Announcements | 7 Comments »

    Why Video and Audio Blogging Probably Aren’t the Next Big Thing

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th February 2005 (All posts by )

    Ann Althouse writes:

    One thing about written blogs is you can glance over them quickly and decide how much you want to read. These podcast recordings impose their time frame on you. A slow talker forces you to listen longer. A slow writer doesn’t cause you to read slowly.

    This is exactly right and I think helps to explain why video blogging isn’t the boon some people think it should be. The reader controls his entire experience; the listener controls some of it; and the watcher of videos, if he is paying attention, is more controlled by the experience than in control (a fact not lost on propagandists, which may explain why the likes of Leni Riefenstahl and Michael Moore tend to produce movies rather than essays). As a blog reader, I want to read what I want, quickly — not watch TV.

    Video has a place on blogs, especially in reporting about tsunamis and other events that are dramatic and not abstract. But to watch some guy talk? Nah.

    UPDATE: Ann adds, among other comments:

    I agree here too. And this point applies in many areas, even ones as far afield as gauges on machines, and voicemail systems. Canned-voice feedback and voice-response systems are usually poor substitutes for the written word, and even for buttons and visual signals.

    (See here for an old rant on a related topic.)

    Posted in Blogging | 6 Comments »

    Thanks to Norton, Ken & James

    Posted by Ginny on 19th February 2005 (All posts by )

    This is really more a comment to Ken’s discussion below and comes from a non-economist as well as James’s discussion of blogger tasks. (Ok, I’m a parasite.)

    The importance of a meme, of a take, essentially, of an analogy, is important. Looking at underlying analogies seems another useful task of bloggers.

    This week I taught Fred Strebeigh’s essay, first published in Bicycling in 1991. Strebeigh had gone to China to see a bicycling society in action and happened upon the Beijing Spring of 1989. He captures the excitement of that time, but woven throughout is a tribute to what we have and they, for that brief time, realized as energy and power. For instance, he notes the privacy of speech that came in the midst of movement as the streets filled with bicyclists; he describes how bikes made possible the assembly in the Tiananmen Square. He leaves Beijing as it erupts to interview a grad student; she had biked a thousand hard miles across China to Tibet. He found Fang Hui, who had been no athlete before setting out on this challenging trek. He asked her if she had worried about giving up on the journey and she had replied that no, before, she had feared giving up on life. Bicycling across country, instead, “I felt as if I would become light” she said. She demonstrated how dead we can feel cocooned and how alive tested.

    Then, he describes a bicycle repairman who, through initiative and work outside the state economy, could afford two more children. My students were excited as well – they understood the power of these ideas. Strebeigh quite beautifully reports what he sees, but what he sees is the strength of the vision that impelled these people–a vision that impels us. He argues that the crack-down had been represented on television by shot after shot of crumpled bicycles, destroyed as the army took over the square and that open life, that open marketplace of ideas and talk and challenge was destroyed.

    Sadly, we will no longer use this book. Some argue it is too difficult, others that it isn’t argumentative enough. Now, we are choosing among rhetorics crammed with the less subtle arguments of op-eds; they consider balance countering Paul Krugman with John Leo. But they won’t include the best of these writers, but rather the quick statements of position where space is too limited for nuance. The writing will be competent but obvious rather than rich & subtle. This semester, I lead up to the contrarian approach of Rauch’s “Defense of Prejudice”; his is an argument for the marketplace of ideas they can, by then, appreciate. Underlying those narrower, more “timely” takes will be a simplification of the marketplaces – of ideas, of goods, of speech. They will be designed to be “relevant” – which essentially means not wresting our students from the sense all of us had at 18 that the world began at our birth and our issues are the big issues.

    And in many will be different metaphors. And that is why we now return to Ken & James.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Economics & Finance | 2 Comments »

    C-SPAN 1 & 2 (times e.t.)

    Posted by Ginny on 18th February 2005 (All posts by )

    This Sunday Q&A (8:00 p.m. and again 11:00) on C-SPAN 1 features Mel Watt, Chair of the Black Caucus and representative from N. Carolina.

    On CSPAN 2 BookTV goes to a 3-day week-end, celebrating Presidents Day. Appropriately, on After Words

    Doug Wead, former special assistant to President George H.W. Bush discusses his book: The Raising of a President: The Mothers and Fathers of our Nation’s Leaders. He is interviewed by historian & author Harold Gullan.

    Saturday night at midnight last weeks After Words, an interview of Natan Sharansky by Tom Gjelten will be rerun. While it does not have Buchanan providing a foil (as Jonathan pointed out in his post), this hour, too, is both interesting and inspiring. Following is Jared Diamond, who is a good deal less optimistic about the human spirit in his Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Paired last week, this time they are separated; still, Michael Crichton offers a counter argument Sunday morning (10:45) with his State of Fear.

    BookTV schedule.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Schedules | Comments Off