I don’t mean to claim originality here; there will always be people who can’t read the signs of the times. The interesting thing is to see how similar their illogic is across supposedly insurmountable political boundaries. Consider WTC conspiracy theorists and antievolutionists.
Archive for March, 2007
This blog’s automated anti-spam system occasionally (more frequently for some commenters) blocks legitimate comments. I used to check the list of blocked comments periodically and manually restore comments that had been blocked in error. However, the spam flow became so voluminous that I stopped checking the list. This means that if your comment is mistakenly classified as spam I will not know about it unless you tell me. So if your comment does not appear within a minute or two of when you post it, please notify me by email (use the support email address or my name at chicagoboyz dot net) so that I can restore it.
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Shannon’s post set me thinking about the odd & perhaps correct clock maker. And it took me back to 1983. We decided to computerize our typing service; my sister visited with the salesman (she ran the business while I had my middle child). As in so much, I think she made the correct choice: we both liked the TI models better but went with IBM, which appeared more flexible and accessible. We needed equipment that several part-time typists a day would work on, typists who came and went for a semester or two.
Way back in college I read this ranting essay written in the 1920s by a conservative preacher, warning of the dangers that the “syncopated rhythms” of Jazz poised to society’s moral fiber. The preacher warned that the inherent sensualism of Jazz would lead to a culture of sexual promiscuity, weakened families and associated social problems. As my professors expected me to, I chortled at the preacher’s fevered concerns. Only years later did a realization strike me:
Our culture did in fact evolve just the way the preacher predicted.
You might notice (if it hasn’t been pushed off the front page yet) a Chicago fire story at the Drudge Report. I work on the 20th floor of that building. So here are a few short observations of my first real building evacuation.
Drews, Robert, The End of the Bronze Age: Changes in Warfare and the Catastrophe Ca. 1200 B.C., Princeton Univ Press, Princeton, NJ, 1993. 252 pp.
[cross-posted on Albion's Seedlings]
With the kind intent of keeping my “To-Read” pile at Olympian scale, Lex recently brought my attention to this older book on the “Catastrophe” that hit the Aegean and eastern Mediterranean civilizations some 3,000 years ago.
I think an old parable explains why the professional subcultures of articulate intellectuals, such as academics in the humanities, artists and journalists, all experience such enormous pressures to conform to the same viewpoint.
In the parable, a king wants to buy some clocks and travels to the Bavarian village were the ten best clockmakers in the world keep their shops all along one street.
The AARP’s new TV ad campaign in which innocent little children earnestly lecture the audience about how “important it is to keep promises” fills me with a blind rage every time I see it.
[Note: This is one of my long comments at another site that I thought I would post here.]
I think our economic lives profoundly influence how we think about broader issues. The degree to which any individual can disagree with one’s superiors and peers without suffering harm to one’s career varies significantly from field to field. In turn, the degree to which mere human opinion plays a role in an individual’s success within a field determines how conformist to common opinion within a field an individual must be to succeed.
In my opinion these developments represent a breakthrough of extraordinary magnitude.
Posted by Mitch Townsend on 23rd March 2007 (All posts by Mitch Townsend)
The Personal Jetpack!
James McCormick discusses Stoicism in war; the training that prepares men for these contests is the subject of Jonathan Smith’s “The Texas Aggie Bonfire: A Conservative Reading of Regional Narratives, Traditional Practices and a Paradoxical Place” (pdf format), which he concludes with
conservatives need conservative culture theory to better understand the social institutions and practices that are necessary to conserve conservative goods like community, authority, piety, solidarity, and manliness. Conservatism must become, in spite of its own best instincts, more theoretical, if only to understand how and why it must become more conservative.
Sherman, Nancy, Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy behind the Military Mind, Oxford University Press, 2005. 242pp.
A recent article in the New Yorker discussed the repeated use of torture on the TV program “24.” Portraying torture as an effective, speedy means of extracting critical information from prisoners is flawed, it claimed. The program’s producer, Joel Surnow, continues to make torture a key dramatic element in 24′s “ticking clock” format, despite informal requests from the US military to avoid doing so. The military is concerned that young soldiers will decide that Jack Bauer‘s repeated brutalities are indeed a useful emergency tool on the modern battlefield. A contrary point of view about whether “24″ is innately conservative is outlined in this article in TCS Daily.
Two questions lingered after reading the New Yorker article. (1) Is torture ever useful for gathering information on an urgent basis? (2) Does the American public’s apparent comfort with the fictional torture in “24″ indicate some unrequited desire for retribution and intimidation, and/or reflect an unacknowledged (and untapped) group resolve?
I entered the public debate concerning gun control 15 years ago. A simple glance through my previous posts should indicate which side I was on.
One of the most frustrating aspects of trying to get my opinion heard was how the media was biased in favor of gun control, and openly hostile to those of us who advocated gun ownership. Newspapers and TV media figures would routinely slant their stories to make the gun grabbers appear reasonable, while simultaneously trying to make self defense advocates appear to be out of touch extremists.
Jim Bennett notes exciting developments:
A century ago it was commonplace to use the idea of “the English-speaking peoples” as a conceptual category and analytical framework. But the idea eventually faded, partly because too many of the people who wrote about it used a social-darwinist, or even a racially-based analysis that became increasingly suspect and increasingly irrelevant as a predictor. The rise of an educated, English-speaking middle class in India, for example, demanded that the British authorities either launch India down the path to self-governing Dominion status along the lines of Canada, or abandon its fundamental principles, or eventually see India become an independent republic. So in away the first iteration of english-speaking consciousness became a victim both of the ideological confusions of its time, and its own success.
Now a new iteration of the idea and analytical framework, suitable for its times, is emerging. It promises to be an interesting period.
Read the whole thing.
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From an email about the recent anti-war protests:
Representative government is a messy process. We make our best decisions when we (civilian Americans), are covered in mud and blood. When public buses are blowing up on American streets, these anti-war protesters may have something else to wank about.
Posted by Mitch Townsend on 18th March 2007 (All posts by Mitch Townsend)
Those picturesque New England stone walls were not put there for their looks. They weren’t even the first choice of material. Fences were originally wood, using the zigzag design that calls for a lot of wood for the length. Wood became scarce and too valuable for fencing after the forests were cleared, so stone walls became the default.
Iraqis, however, essentially believe the possibilities for the Petraeus plan — we provide temporary security with the objective of creating the space necessary for the government and army of Iraq to stand without assistance, after which we substantially withdraw.
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Update: If anyone is still scrolling this far down on March 28, here is Fausta’s (via Instapundit) example of French order and civilization.
2nd Update: If anyone is still scrolling this far down (March 30), Der Spiegel Online has a lengthy (8-part) discussion – “Paving the Way to a Parallel Muslim Society” - that was prompted by the case of the judge who quoted the Koran when denying a wife who was regularly beaten by her husband a quick divorce. From a later section:
In 2005, Hatun Sürücü, a young Berlin woman, was killed because she was “living like a German.” In her family’s opinion, this was a crime only her death could expiate. Her youngest brother executed her by shooting her several times, point blank, at a Berlin bus stop. But because prosecutors were unable to prove that the family council had planned the act, only the killer himself could be tried for murder and, because he was underage, he was given a reduced sentence. The rest of the family left the courtroom in high spirits, and the father rewarded the convicted boy with a watch.
“Living like a German” would seem to be the goal of assimilation, of integration. But, of course, to some of these immigrants that may appear a temptation rather than a goal. But if Germans, themselves, do not see this as a goal, how can an immigrant do so? And do all the EU members, so busy at not being themselves, consider being themselves a burden rather than a gift.
This report is not likely to surprise anyone whose daughter did a year in France in the last few years. In my day, we thought we’d happened along an unattractive but perhaps unrepresentative example (e.g., the Algerian in the Paris hostel who pointed out, unsympathetically, that my coat would not have been stolen the night before if I had only been willing to go to a hotel with him). My daughter’s and friends’ reports from their daughters seem to indicate the pattern has become more frightening: more violent and more pervasive. And, yes, blaming the victim is precisely the reason Sharia law scares me. (Via, of course, Instapundit.)
I started writing a response to a comment and found it getting too long. Besides, it is personal & a bit off-topic. But in essence, I think Kelly is right. My religious friends – and I am sure, Lex – will find this superficial. Nonetheless, I suspect if viewed as sociology – or perhaps, an anthropological study of the tribe of academics, it may interest.
The trucking groups don’t seem to realize that the leasing of a few high-profile toll roads is just a small part of a much larger and more important phenomenon: the infusion of global capital into a capital-starved U.S. highway system. The multi-billion-dollar new toll road projects that keep being announced in Texas are a foretaste of what we can look forward to if we create a comparably friendly investment climate in other states.
-Robert Poole (in Surface Transportation Innovations, Issue No. 40, February 2007)
Ginny’s post got me to thinking about a topic I muse over every once in a while. I have two firm beliefs about scientists. One is that they do not need to be as much of a bunch of egotistical buggers as they tend to be. (I have devoted multiple posts on my blog to that effect.) The other is that the natural political state of the scientist (and of most engineers) should be libertarian / conservative, because the core non-technical skill required for scientific work above the B.Sc. level is the ready acceptance of personal responsibility.
Okay, I’m a science illiterate and generally have less curiosity than becomes a sentient being about much related to that large branch of learning. Still Belmont Club’s discussion of “post-normal science”, here and here, seems to describe a theory idiots like me can grasp. Amazingly enough, it appears to be a kind of science in which I (who might well be affected as would my children and who, God knows, have opinions) can participate (along with every high-school dropout rocker and the lightest of Hollywood ingenues). I have my doubts that’s a good thing. I wonder what the scientists on board think.