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  • Archive for August, 2006

    Posted by Jonathan on 24th August 2006 (All posts by )

    What every man wants.

    Posted in Humor | 4 Comments »

    The 20-something Solution

    Posted by Ginny on 24th August 2006 (All posts by )

    You all have talked much lately of the generation divisions, but today I saw one that is not, I suspect, what most of you were thinking about. In the midst of one of our endless workshops on grading freshman English papers, we were divided into groups to compare grading techniques. This was generally meant to encourage us to grade in a more similar manner – given that some of the sample papers we were given were graded with 40 point differences, probably we do need some standardization.

    Well, I complained in passing that years ago, at my first go-around of college teaching, students were constantly telling me that “one does this” and “one does that.” A fellow teacher of approximately my age groaned about the “pompous one.” They don’t do that so much, now – McWhorter & countless others have noted the informalizing of American writing. Getting rid of the “one” is a small silver lining in that particular cloud.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Arts & Letters | 17 Comments »

    Automotive: Monterey Historics 2006

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd August 2006 (All posts by )

    A bit off-topic but the car enthusiasts here will like it. A friend of mine has been attending the Monterey, California Historic Car Races for several years, and put together this presentation based on this year’s event. YouTube’s file compression degrades the quality somewhat, but it’s still cool to look at if you have any interest in cars. Nice music too.

    Posted in Diversions | Comments Off on Automotive: Monterey Historics 2006

    Those Who Can’t…

    Posted by John Jay on 23rd August 2006 (All posts by )

    Since Shannon is blasting Ed Schools and their graduates, I figured I’d put in my 2 cents. I’m not in the Academy anymore, so I don’t have to play the nicey-nice games of pretending that every department’s research is equally valuable to society, and that all Ph.D.s represent the same intellectual effort on the part of the Ph.D. holder. I once I read a comment about how Education Ph.D.s resent that graduate students and professors in other disciplines, especially science, intimate or outright state that Education Ph.D.s are stupid. I’m certainly guilty of that. Where’s my data?

    Well, let us get some figures, shall we? Like my advisor used to say, an argument without numbers is a religious discussion. Whom are you trying to convert? Take a look at this, and scroll down to the section titled “How Difficult Is Admission To A Good Program” (the title is on the left-hand sidebar). There is a chart of majors and their average GRE scores. Out of 28 programs reported by ETS in 2002, which one scored #28 in the mean total GRE score? Public Administration. Wow, we give political and bureaucratic power to these bozos? But on topic, which one scored #27? Yep, you guessed it, Education. Education schools were spared the ignominy of last place only by the sheer ineptitude of those wishing to enter government service. And it’s not even as if they had bombed the Qual section, the average Verbal score was lower than any Engineering discipline except for Industrial Engineering. (Engineers, for those who are uninitiated, are reputed to not be able to write worth beans. Unfortunately, this stereotype is often deserved.)

    Posted in Education | 20 Comments »

    Stupid Journalist Tricks and Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” Law

    Posted by Jonathan on 23rd August 2006 (All posts by )

    Strange Women Lying in Ponds eviscerates a tendentious Miami Herald article about Florida’s new self-defense law.

    Miami Police Chief John Timoney is quoted in the article:

    What you’re going to see is drug dealers using this [i.e., the new law] to settle scores, and the Legislature has basically given them permission

    Timoney should know better. Perhaps he does. This quote reflects poorly on him in any case. The Herald plays along, because the reporters and their editors are either too lazy to do a little research or because they like what Timoney is saying or both. The fact is that no matter the changes in the law, anybody who shoots another person is going to receive full investigative scrutiny and be prosecuted if the shooting was not in self-defense. That’s as it should be. (To its credit the article provides a quote from the NRA’s Marion Hammer, who reasonably points out that criminals have claimed self-defense since long before the new law was enacted. However, Hammer’s one quote is offset by numerous quotes from opponents of the law, most of whom ignore the law’s substance.)

    In particular, the article’s emphasis of State’s Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle’s comment that the new law complicates prosecutions misses the point, and the authors mislead by not providing more background on the law. The very reason the law exists is that prosecutors like Fernandez Rundle had gained a reputation for being too willing to prosecute otherwise-law-abiding individuals who defended themselves against violent attacks. The new law exists in part to clarify the legislature’s intent that good-faith attempts at self-defense not be punished. The law would not have been proposed, then easily passed and enacted, if there were no problem with prosecutors who abused their discretion.

    UPDATE: A follow up by SWLIP.

    (Related posts here and here.)

    Posted in Law, RKBA, Society | 4 Comments »

    Scientists You Should Know

    Posted by John Jay on 22nd August 2006 (All posts by )

    I fall somewhere in the middle of the camp that looks at the progress of science as a series of spikes precipitated by Great Men (and a few Great Women), and the camp that sees new discoveries as inevitable given the pressing questions of the day and the level of instrumentation available. Most of the time someone was going to discover or explain a given phenomenon anyway, and the horse race included some very smart also-rans who would have arrived at the same conclusions if the front runner were removed from the picture.

    However, certain intellects can paint a coherent picture of Nature in a way that most mortals can’t, and when those intellects come along, study hard, and are allowed to apply themselves to what amounts to a metastable collection of old knowledge, the progress of science leaps much further ahead in a much shorter time than if a bunch of less motivated, mediocre intellects were slowly plugging away at the same problems. There are plenty of instances in history where a given civilization had all the tools and observations at hand to discover or explain something, and for some reason just didn’t. The Chinese should have invented and perfected cannons long before the West. They didn’t, and a lot of that has to do with the freeing of individual intellects caused by competition between European states, as opposed to the push to maintain the social and technological status quo in Imperial China.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Science | 7 Comments »

    Singapore Pundit on China (and India, and Singapore)

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 22nd August 2006 (All posts by )

    (My good friend whom I’ll call Singapore Pundit is a businessman who speaks Chinese and has been in Asia, first Hong Kong, then Beijing, now Singapore for many years. SP read this post, and had a few comments. I pass on his thoughts with his permission.)

    I read your post on the blog. It is a little like a University of Chicago dinner conversion in cyber-space.

    China versus India? Well, I think that both the Chinese in power and the Indians in power both believe that economic development via free markets is the right path. They know that FDI and WTO are important. They also seem to agree that social and international stability are critical factors to economic growth. Interestingly, India has the Kasmir issue and China the Taiwan issue which are both lighting rods for the nationalist in their respective countries. A wrong step by either country over these issues could derail their economic development and unfortunately these issues are so emotional and sensitive that they could blow up.

    I would observe that both China and India are very complex countries in all dimensions. Just think of the US and how complicated a place it is and add a few thousand years of history and triple the population and speed up the growth rate and social change and the place is wildly complex and difficult to fully understand.

    So, both China and India are difficult to comprehend, hence I agree that the average American doesn’t have a good change to really understand what’s going on either place. Frankly, even the experts don’t agree on many points and have what are strange opinions and outdated views.

    I have mentioned to you before that I don’t think that the central government in China and the party are that all powerful and in control. If they are unable to provide steady economic growth and the resulting prosperity and social stability, their reign of power is not going to last and they know it. They very much look to the west and other countries developed countries for models and experience to help them succeed. The big threat to the “Communist” is regional leader completely going their own way and destabilizing the whole country. The leadership in China must look at what is happening in Iraq in fear and cite it as an example of what could happen if they lose control. My impression is that debate and information is much more free in China than what people in the US realize. There is also I believe a desire in large parts of the government to get to more democratic institution and more open society. Deng Xiaoping completely changed China from a truly Soviet-style state to something that in the seventies the US government would identify as a free society (something like Korea, Thailand or Taiwan). Now all of the countries have become democracies with relatively little bloodshed (Taiwan didn’t have any major unrest, where both Korea and Thailand had their militaries killing a significant number of their citizens). This should give us hope. It is possible that China could behave like Germany and Japan in the thirties, but my gut tells me that leader don’t have that mentality.

    Most of my Indian friends think that it is very difficult to get things done in India. If the government want to build a road, getting the rights-of-way is almost impossible so infrastructure needed for economic growth is not getting built fast enough. This is hampering economic growth. They actually like the way thing get done in China. It seems that India has a well developed legal system, but it is undermined by corruption.

    I am going to slightly change the subject and try to rap up my comments. I saw the national day rally speech of the Singapore Prime Minister. I think you would find it very interesting. All kinds of stuff on being open and critical, taking risk, being Singaporean and patriotic. Singapore is a special one party state. And I suspect that both China and India are interested in what Singapore says and does. Perhaps this is a model of English institutes/ideas married with Chinese administration and politics.

    Posted in Anglosphere, China, India, Personal Narrative | 5 Comments »

    Not with a Boom, With a Whimper

    Posted by John Jay on 22nd August 2006 (All posts by )

    A couple of good reads apropos the comment-fests on the Boomers. First, one from the Times (via Rachel):

    It was a time of collective self-importance, which masked — not very effectively — a striking indifference to the way the world actually did and might work. I hardly met a single person in the “underground” context who didn’t, no matter how sexually available or amusing, turn out in the end to be ignorant and rather a bore.

    The depths of tedium that can be plumbed by sitting around half stoned, listening to people chatter moonily about reuniting humankind and erasing its aggressive instincts through Love and Dope, are scarcely imaginable to those who have not suffered them.

    And the other one, from the incomparable Lileks:

    Before the 50s, when there were actual problems like an interminable Depression and Nazis, adolescents were mostly unseen in the culture. You had kids, and you had grown-ups. Adolescents were young grownups, expected to adhere to the same general rules of behavior. It was an adult culture, and adolescents were the interns. The culture would tolerate some things like Bobby Soxers, but with wry eye-rolling amusement. After the war, though, the adolescent was not only the focus of the culture’s attention, he was taken seriously. He was an inarticulate oracle, a mumbling sage, a jeering jester with a switchblade. One of the dumbest lines in cinema is one of the most famous: asked what he’s rebelling against, Marlin Brando’s character in the “The Wild Ones” says “Whaddya got?”

    Oh, I don’t know. The Pure Food Act, antibiotics, an industrial infrastructure that makes it possible for you to ride your bikes around, paved roads, a foreseeable successful conclusion to rural electrification, sewers, the ability to walk into any small café and order a Coke and know you won’t be squitting your guts out 12 hours later into a hole in the ground alive with squishy invertebrates. Little things.

    Someone please tell me why Lileks is not writing for the NYT.

    Posted in Politics | 8 Comments »

    Posted by Jonathan on 22nd August 2006 (All posts by )

    Posted in Photos | 7 Comments »

    I say “Plato,” you say…

    Posted by Shannon Love on 22nd August 2006 (All posts by )

    So my son started his high-school freshman year last week. My spouse and I had the following dialog:

    Spouse: (Scowling) “I looked over the online syllabus for his English class and the teacher mentions Plato!”

    Me:”You don’t like Plato?”

    Spouse:”Not in a high-school English class I don’t!”
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Education, Personal Narrative | 20 Comments »

    The Collapse of Liberal Orders

    Posted by Shannon Love on 20th August 2006 (All posts by )

    In the post-9/11 world, everyone worries that increasing government power in order to fight terrorism will lead inexorably to a loss of freedom and ultimately to a collapse of the liberal (in the classic sense) order of Western society. This concern is not a new one. Britons in the 1700s warned of “insensible loss of liberties” that would occur by the aggregate effects of the accumulation of seemingly trivial individual laws. A vast array of citizens watch with eagle eyes every new power of the state and seek to obstruct most of them. believing that the powers represent a greater threat than the enemy they seek to contain.

    History, however, suggest they are looking in the wrong direction.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in History, Political Philosophy | 21 Comments »

    Cat Rescue

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 20th August 2006 (All posts by )

    Our good friend Carl Ortona sends this harrowing tale:

    Story in basics, our cat becomes friends/lovers (in a non-sexual way b/c one is neutered and both are male � but, well, like Dick Cheney, I bear a burden leavened by my love of the bastard we took in off the streets a year ago �.) with another two neighborhood feral/wild cats, both become habitu�s because they recognize value of a free meal when available — Friday afternoon, C came home hysterical b/c as she pulled into the driveway, she spotted one of the cats as it limped up our driveway missing its tail but with grisly spine intact — 1) maybe neighborhood sadists, but they are now in school; 2) somewhat more likely, run over by car; 3) even more likely, caught in rat trap or somesuch under someone�s house and ripped its own tail off — upshot —- have spent last 48 hours trying to 1) find it; 2) when spotted, trying to catch it and get it to vet; 3) found it tonight under the house (which is up on blocks b/c you don�t do basements down here) � so with 8 -12 inches clearance, found it with a flashlight, crawled the fifty to sixty feet to where it was hiding/waiting to die, dragged it by the scruff of its neck to within 10 feet of the edge of the house, and it then proceeded to rediscover its will to die alone and bit and scratched the hell out of my hands and arms —- have already scoured with alcohol and antibiotics and am taking a shower to get the mold and dust and dirt off of me — this was about as intense as it gets unless the feral beast had hand grenades and a Koran in its hand and the combat ceiling was 10 inches, which it was. I actually like the little beast, and like Nietzsche, despite my desire to punt it every time I see it because it reminds me of the little Lord Faunteleroy of the cat world, I care for it (sometimes) more than 99% of humanity — then I remind myself that Nietzsche was only right about a few things (unfortunately, loving brute animals, even feral cats might be one of them) and with a wife who is a legitimate copycat of the above sentiment, duty called.

    Off to lick my own wounds; despite cheeky attempts at humor, nothing is sadder, more pathetically gut wrenching, and, well more natural, than a dumb animal which is suffering, and most likely dying, by itself, and viciously fights off any efforts to help because it doesn�t know any better since it is blind to good intentions and a helping hand — such are animals, and hence the image of a �wounded animal� — I know all that, but it didn�t stop me from crawling under the house — I might make a good father after all.

    I am sure you will, sir.

    Posted in Humor, Personal Narrative | 4 Comments »

    Remarkable — and Harsh — Photos from China.

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 19th August 2006 (All posts by )

    The photos are here.

    If there had been color film in the late 19th century USA we would have seen carnage like this as we began to climb the curve of industrialization, ordinary people routinely killed by trains, etc. Except we had democracy and were able to enact laws that led to greater public safety.

    The Chinese have a long way to go before their economic take-off can become safe and clean as well as fast.

    These images are remote indeed from the glittering skyline of Pudong.

    I look at these and I think that the Chinese have a lot on their plate.

    Posted in China, Photos, Society | 21 Comments »

    Israel: Possible Silver Lining

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th August 2006 (All posts by )

    The news from Israel confirms that there’s a high degree of popular outrage over the poor performance of the politicians and military in Lebanon. Major reforms are likely, to judge by the tone of Israelis quoted in the press. In this regard the current situation resembles the aftermath of the 1973 war.

    If the recent war hadn’t happened — i.e., if Hezbollah and Iran had waited a few more years before making their move — Israel might have been even more unprepared for an even bigger attack. IOW even though the war has been a debacle, it may be that a debacle now, if its lessons can be assimilated in time, is preferable to a much bigger crisis down the road.

    For background, see here and here.

    (Note that the political demonstrations mentioned in the second article are not, contra the misleading headline, demonstrations in opposition to Israel’s participation in the war. They are demos against the leadership for mishandling the war.)

    Posted in Israel | 5 Comments »

    India and China

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 19th August 2006 (All posts by )

    This comparison is almost becoming a clich�. But, still, it is an interesting one and potentially enlightening, if handled properly.

    This book Asia’s Giants: Comparing China and India got a good review in the current Foreign Affairs, which came in the mail today.

    Palgrave’s catalog page: says this:

    This edited volume reconsiders the conventional wisdom, which argues that comparative performance (in economic, social, political, as well as diplomatic arenas) of China has been superior to that of India. The book brings together ‘new paradigms’ for evaluating the comparative performance of two countries. Essays show that if not outright wrong, conventional wisdom has proven to be overly simplified. The book brings out the complexity and richness of the India-China comparison.

    Any challenge to this conventional wisdom is greatly appreciated. The FA review says the issue of China’s unreliable statistics is addressed, and its about time, too!

    “Complexity and richness” are nice buzzwords. I am waiting for someone to make the point that Jim Bennett has repeatedly made, e.g. here:

    There�s a link between strength of civil society and civil society institutions and entrepreneurism and prosperity. If this is true at all, and it just seems to be overwhelmingly true, sooner or later India is going to overtake China in the nature and pace of its economic development, and I think shortly after it overtakes it, it�s going to far outstrip it.

    I think that India�the rise of India is going to be one of the big stories of the 21st century and the relative problems of China, once they get another two or three decades down the road, is going to be another big story and one that a lot of people aren�t expecting. All you�re�people are mesmerized by the growth curves in China right now. They see pictures of the big skyscrapers in Pudong and, you know, they�re extremely impressed by this, but they�re not looking the fact that China is on the wrong side of a huge transition problem.

    If you look at these transition problems in small countries like Taiwan and South Korea, which have very similar social structures, this was a big crisis. It was a huge crisis in Japan, which is not so similar, but had some similar issues, and it led to a, you know, major world war.

    China�s got big problems. I hope they work through them peacefully, without an enormous amount of disruptions; but, you know, I�m not going to lay odds on that it�s anything like 80 percent chance of success there. I think they�ve got a 50-50 chance of getting through their democratic transition without major problems and disruption, which are going to be I think the big international crisis of the 2030 or 2040.

    China is, as of now, still on the wrong side of a politico-legal transition that India has already made over the course of two centuries. Leaping that chasm is a problem that Japan and Korea, for example, have both made, and not without much turmoil. China will probably not be able to “scale up Singapore” and have developmental autocracy forever. The predation and corruption in this system will choke off growth unless the Chinese move ahead with real reforms at some point, that actually cede power from the gang that runs the place now. China has some major challenges ahead and everybody is just whistling and looking the other way. Meanwhile, India has hidden strengths which will, I hope, surprise the world.

    Posted in Anglosphere, China, India | 58 Comments »

    Jonathan’s Point on a Smaller Scale

    Posted by Ginny on 19th August 2006 (All posts by )

    New Yorkers, finally fed up, voted in Giuliani. The applicability of that pattern to Jonathan’s muted optimism struck me in reading Theodore Dalrymple, who, in his usual pull-no-punches style, reviews A Land Fit for Criminals.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crime and Punishment | 2 Comments »

    How Much Political Leverage Does the Anti-War Left Have?

    Posted by Jonathan on 19th August 2006 (All posts by )

    This post began as a response to some of the comments on this post. The commenters there believe that the Left will oppose our war against Islamic fascism no matter what. I think that may be true, but I want to expand on it to argue that even if it is true (and I don’t think the other commenters disagree), at worst the anti-war Left will be able to delay rather than stop our war effort.

    Here are some hypothetical statistics about the composition of the US population. I made them up, but I assume that the real numbers are not so much different than these as to invalidate my argument:

    Group 1: People who want us to do whatever it takes to win the war: 25% of US voters

    Group 2: People who will oppose the use of US military power no matter what: 25% of US voters

    Group 3: People whose opinion re the use of US military power depends on the extent of the external threat that they perceive: 50% of US voters

    So, assuming that our elected representatives are sensitive to voter sentiment (and I think they are), and depending on the actual percentages of voters who fall into Groups 1 and 2, some majority of the swing voters in Group 3 will decide what we do as a nation. Maybe the decisive proportion, as a fraction of all voters, is as low as 20% or as high as 40%. I doubt that it is higher.

    Under current circumstances, with a lot of recent bad news, anti-war media and bureaucracies, and an administration that has made a lot of mistakes and is inept at explaining itself, there appears to be enough skepticism among undecideds about the war and/or the competence of our leaders as to preclude new initiatives (e.g., attacks on Iran).

    But this current stasis is based on a situation in which most of the variables are skewed in an anti-war direction. Voter opinion could remain marginally anti-war, or become even more anti-war, in the event of, say, a Shiite revolt in Iraq. But other conceivable events — such as a major terror attack in the USA, another attack on Israel or an Iranian/proxy campaign against Allied ships near the Horn of Africa — could flip the domestic opinion balance toward the pro-war side. And anti-war sentiment at home may encourage our enemies and make additional attacks on us more likely. So it seems likely, unfortunately, that majority public sentiment in the USA will eventually swing back towards being pro-war no matter what we do. And the change could come rapidly, as only a small subgroup of voters needs to change its position. (Of course I am assuming that we really do have enemies. I think that’s a safe assumption.)

    War with Iran appears increasingly likely since the recent Lebanon debacle. This war will be more destructive the longer we put it off, and especially if we cede the initiative to our enemies. The tragedy is that our big media and many Democratic politicians, for mainly domestic political purposes, have been sowing fears among voters about the wisdom of the overall US war effort, and the Bush administration has been inept in assuaging those fears. Thus we may have to suffer an inevitable second or even third Pearl Harbor (if 9/11 was the first), or something even worse, before we as a society, under Republican or Democratic leadership, regain the political will to defeat our mortal enemies.

    Posted in War and Peace | 7 Comments »

    “An old refrain, it lingers on: l’amour, toujours, l’amour…”

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 19th August 2006 (All posts by )

    I did not love Roxy Music, but I did love their song “All I Want is You”. I heard it on WBCN in Boston back in the 70s. Rock songs are not usually romantic love songs. When they say “love” they mean “gettin’ it on”. But this one is that rarity, a romantic love song, and — unusually for the arch, idiosyncratic and somewhat abstract Roxy — a genuine rock song.

    Via the unspeakably great You Tube, here is a live version of “All I Want is You”. Having listened to this about 20 times, I have decided to share the joy with the ChicagoBoyz community. The always dapper Bryan Ferry is fabulous in some kind of state trooper uniform. But he was no mere fashion plate. The man had the greatest enunciation in popular music. The band is in the pocket. These guys had the goods.

    This one really took me back.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10QSJUAkDgo&playnext=1&list=PLD14F4DE950D93E74

    Here are two other Roxy Music gems from their golden era, Do the Strand and Virginia Plain.

    And as curiosity/bonus for our beloved readers, here is the recently resurrected Mission of Burma, old and gnarly but still full of spit and vinegar, playing Roxy’s Editions of You with the guy from Dinosaur, Jr. on guitar. Roxy is part of the deep structure at this point. Which is a good thing. (Thanks to Carl Ortona for the Burma link.)

    (Here’s a cool Bryan Ferry interview from 1972.)

    Lyrics below the fold.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Music, Video | 1 Comment »

    What the Hell Happened to the Israeli Army?

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 17th August 2006 (All posts by )

    On the 32nd day of the war, Hizbullah is still standing and fighting. That by itself is a stunning feat: a small guerilla organization, with a few thousand fighters, is standing up to one of the strongest armies in the world and has not been broken after a month of “pulverizing”. Since 1948, the armies of Egypt, Syria and Jordan have repeatedly been beaten in wars that were much shorter. � if a light-weight boxer is fighting a heavy-weight champion and is still standing in the 12th round, the victory is his – whatever the count of points says.

    ***

    Clearly, Hizbullah has prepared well for this war – while the Israeli command has prepared for a quite different war. On the level of individual fighters, the Hizbullah are not inferior to our soldiers, neither in bravery nor in initiative.

    ***

    This war casts a dark shadow on the whole upper echelon of our army. I assume that there are some talented officers, but the general picture is of a senior officers corps that is mediocre or worse, grey and unoriginal. Almost all the many officers that have appeared on TV are unimpressive, uninspiring professionals, experts on covering their behinds, repeating empty cliches like parrots.

    ***

    � an army that has been acting for many years as a colonial police force against the Palestinian population – “terrorists”, women and children – and spending its time running after stone-throwing boys, cannot remain an efficient army. The test of results confirms this.

    ***

    Judging from the reactions of the commanders in the field, they clearly were completely unaware of the defense system built by Hizbullah in South Lebanon. The complex infrastructure of hidden bunkers, stocked with modern equipment and stockpiles of food and weapons was a complete surprise for the army. It was not ready for these bunkers, including those built two or three kilometers from the border. They are reminiscent of the tunnels in Vietnam.

    ***

    History teaches that defeat can be a great blessing for an army. A victorious army rests on its laurels, it has no motive for self-criticism, it degenerates, its commanders become careless and lose the next war. (see: the Six-day war leading to the Yom Kippur war). A defeated army, on the other side, knows that it must rehabilitate itself. On one condition: that it admits defeat.

    The author’s conclusion, that Israel can cut a deal with Syria and Hezbollah is wrong. But the critique of the Israeli military’s performance seems to be accurate, unfortunately.

    RTWT.

    Incidentally, Hezbollah’s performance, including its use of underground positions, was foretold accurately by H. John Poole in his book Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods, which came out almost two years ago.

    UPDATE: Jonathan tells me this author is a notorious Leftist. Not surprising, given some of the stuff in this article. Nonetheless, the criticisms he levels here seem to be legitimate. Also, the idea that the military would have done a bang-up job but the civilians wouldn’t let them does not seem right. We had the same myth about Vietnam. But in both wars it seems that the generals botched their part of the program badly. The Israelis have just handed our common enemies a major victory. There is plenty of well-deserved blame to go around.

    Posted in Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, Terrorism, War and Peace | 16 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 17th August 2006 (All posts by )

    The IDF has great combat leaders and brave soldiers. But Hezbollah’s boys proved tougher – and we can’t pretty it up. The terrorists were willing – even eager – to die for their cause. Israeli leaders dreaded friendly casualties. And IDF troops – except in elite units – lacked the will to close with the enemy and defeat him at close quarters.

    ***

    The IDF needs pervasive reform. Still structured to defeat the conventional militaries of Syria and Egypt, it faced an enemy tailored specifically to take on the IDF. Historical reputation isn’t enough – the IDF must rebuild itself to take on post-modern threats. As one senior American general put it, “The IDF’s been living on fumes since 1967.”

    Ralph Peters

    RTWT.

    Posted in Israel, Middle East, Military Affairs, Terrorism, War and Peace | 4 Comments »

    Finding Your Target

    Posted by John Jay on 17th August 2006 (All posts by )

    Well that last post generated a lot of heat, both pro and con. I think that the point I was leading towards got a little lost in the shuffle, but it sure was interesting to see the split within the Boomers reflected in the contents, which gets at the way I look at the generational divide.

    One of the issues that I think Ginny was hinting around (I don’t want to put words in her mouth, but I think she’ll correct me if I’m wrong) is that the Boomers are not homogenous in any way shape or form. No generation is. A lot of the vitriol directed at the Boomers (including my own) is really not deserved by an awful large percentage of that group. As I said, the Boomer scientists (and some of the middle managers) I work with are not in the way – they are some of the best of what that generation has to offer. What no one asked about the “goals” survey was – what were the demographics? Were the respondents upper-middle and upper class kids in the 1960s, the very same ones who threatened to change the world? Or were the respondents mostly working class kids who went to, or were at risk to going to, SEA? The inward looking goals, the desire to travel after a lifetime of manual labor, might not sound so bad to Gen X ears coming out of the latter.
    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Politics | 8 Comments »

    Macfarlane — Empire Of Tea

    Posted by James McCormick on 16th August 2006 (All posts by )

    [cross-posted on Albion’s Seedlings]

    Macfarlane, Alan and Iris, The Empire of Tea: The Remarkable History of the Plant that took over the World, 2003. (also published as Green Gold: The Empire of Tea). 308 pp. in small format.

    In past blog posts, I’ve reviewed several books that help us understand the dynamics of international trade over the last thousand years or so. Our world has been globalized for a very long time and we have examples of how the two ends of Eurasia had very different needs, interests, and capacities. In one such case, the elements of material culture (glass-making and glass-using) were to have profound impact on how Westerners viewed the world in advance of other cultures. Alan Macfarlane’s book on Glass was a well-written and stimulating account of the role of glass-making in global technological change.

    Macfarlane has followed up with a similar, but rather more personal, book on one item of material culture and trade – the tea leaf. His family were tea planters in Assam (northeast of India) during the mid-20th century, and Empire of Tea is co-written with his mother, who experienced life as memsahib in the 40s and was emotionally traumatized by the plight of the agricultural workers on the Assamese tea plantations. The harsh physical demands on the workers picking the tea leaves continue to this day.

    Empire of Tea, per normal for a book by Alan Macfarlane, reflects encyclopedic research with a deft and approachable written style. It’s a small book and a relatively quick read, and very well organized, but one comes away with a strong sense of the botany, medicinal effects, history, economic impact, and social import of tea in human history over the last 1500 years. An excellent starting point to the literature, in other words.

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    Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes | 2 Comments »

    Men’s Leadership Forum of Chicago: Luncheon with Robert Novak 9.13.06

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 15th August 2006 (All posts by )

    I have been involved in the founding of this new group. The luncheon with Robert Novak is our inaugural event. If you have any interest, details are below the fold.
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    Posted in Chicagoania, Christianity | 2 Comments »

    Ka-Boom

    Posted by John Jay on 14th August 2006 (All posts by )

    Ginny’s post got me to thinking about what exactly is a Baby Boomer. As she pointed out, a lot of people’s visceral reaction to those Boomer late-life goals are due to the very inward looking nature, given that generation’s hubris and threats to change the world (for the worse, in hindsight). Us Gen Xers take great delight in pointing out the hypocrisy there, but really, how much of that generation fits our stereotypical Boomer image? There is a very large core group that does, but there are significantly large minorities in that generation who do not fit the stereotype of the narcissistic leftist. None of the Boomers I work with fit in that mold, but then they are all scientists. When we talk about generational characteristics and how they impact society, we have to put our prejudices aside and look at what is true, rather than what we’d like to be true.
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    Posted in Politics | 32 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Chicago Boyz Archive on 13th August 2006 (All posts by )

    O man of good will – why the sword?’

    The old soldier looked as abashed as a child interrupted in his game of make-believe.

    ‘The sword,’ he said, fumbling it. ‘Oh, that was a fancy of mine, an old man’s fancy. Truly the police orders are that no man must bear weapons throughout Hind, but’ – he cheered up and slapped the hilt – ‘all the constabeels hereabout know me.’

    ‘It is not a good fancy,’ said the lama. ‘What profit to kill men?’

    ‘Very little – as I know; but if evil men were not now and then slain it would not be a good world for weaponless dreamers. I do not speak without knowledge who have seen the land from Delhi south awash with blood.’

    ‘What madness was that, then?’

    ‘The Gods, who sent it for a plague, alone know. A madness ate into all the Army, and they turned against their officers. That was the first evil, but not past remedy if they had then held their hands. But they chose to kill the Sahibs’ wives and children. Then came the Sahibs from over the sea and called them to most strict account.’

    Rudyard Kipling, Kim

    Posted in History, Military Affairs, Morality and Philosphy | Comments Off on Quote of the Day