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  • Archive for May, 2007

    Minor Aggregation – 3

    Posted by Ginny on 12th May 2007 (All posts by )

    Belmont Club & Samizdata are having a little fun with the appointment of Zimbabwe, now head of the Commission on Sustainable Development at the United Nations. Samizdat quotes an American spokesman: “We don’t think that Zimbabwe would be a particularly effective leader of this body”. Belmont observes “The UN can do little harm as long as it is universally understood that it operates according to the principles of magical realism.” On the other hand, the first comment at Samizdat makes a sensible observation: “In terms of taking the world back to a bleak, pre-industrial existence (which is what many people in favour of “sustainable development” seemingly want) the government of Zimababwe is doing a good job of leading by example.” Of course, this wryness would be a good deal funnier if there weren’t real people with real needs ill served by a government that now is in a position to suggest others follow its disastrous policies.

    Posted in United Nations | 1 Comment »

    Minor Aggregation – 2

    Posted by Ginny on 11th May 2007 (All posts by )

    A&L links to two discussions of communism and the influence of its Russian version. The first is to a review of two new books, Seven Years That Changed the World and Comrades! in “The Ash Heap of History” from The Economist. The author sees Brown’s book (Seven Years That Changed the World) as a useful discussion of Gorbachev’s reign but is especially impressed by Comrades!, in which he describes Robert Service’s strength:

    With this volume he has produced one of the best-ever studies of his subject, even if he is much stronger on Russia than on other countries. Eschewing the usual convoluted language of Marxist debates, he provides a gripping account of communism’s intellectual origins, pedigree and impact.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Book Notes, Russia | 7 Comments »

    Minor Aggregation – 1

    Posted by Ginny on 11th May 2007 (All posts by )

    Lowering the level of Chicagoboyz discourse:

    I’m not all that sure that Paris Hilton needs to fear the fate worse than death. Surely the average Hoosegow Honey at Iowahawk is more attractive – or at least seems to have something going on behind her eyes. That it is plotting forgeries and thefts still seems more bewitching than the absolute vacuity of Hilton’s stare. Speaking of Iowahawk, his series of letters to newspaper subscribers starting in 1957 and ending with a rather lovely & contemporary blackmail note catches a certain change in tone with which some of us are unhappily familiar.

    Posted in Humor | 4 Comments »

    So farewell then, Tony Blair

    Posted by Helen on 11th May 2007 (All posts by )

    Tony Blair’s so-called resignation was possibly the most inelegant exit made by any British Prime Minister. By no means the first leader to go before his term was up (of the post war ones Churchill, Eden, Macmillan, Wilson, Thatcher did), his was most the most prolonged and agonizingly dull. By yesterday morning, when the BBC Russian Service called to ask if I would take part in a discussion to be broadcast that afternoon, all I could do was to groan. Hasn’t he gone yet? We are waiting for the announcement, chuckled the producer.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Britain, Europe, International Affairs | 6 Comments »

    Don’t Drink the Water!

    Posted by James R. Rummel on 10th May 2007 (All posts by )

    It is no secret that China’s one burning ambition is to meet and eventually exceed the United States in…well, everything! Military might, global prestige, cultural influence, space exploration. They think they should be king of the hill, and they are going to try and claw their way to the top.

    Of all the categories mentioned above, it is Chinese efforts to build up their military that most Western analysts find to be the most troubling. We would welcome it if a liberal democracy like, say, Canada would actually stop the slow slide into oblivion that they have decided is the future for their armed forces. But a totalitarian state like China? Not so much.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in China, Military Affairs | 8 Comments »

    A Neglected But Significant Anniversary

    Posted by David Foster on 9th May 2007 (All posts by )

    ‘When the crocus blossoms,’ hiss the women in Berlin,
    ‘He will press the button, and the battle will begin.
    When the crocus blossoms, up the German knights will go,
    And flame and fume and filthiness will terminate the foe…
    When the crocus blossoms, not a neutral will remain.’

    (A P Herbert, Spring Song, quoted in To Lose a Battle, by Alistair Horne)

    On May 10, 1940, German forces launched an attack against Belgium, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. Few people among the Allies imagined that France would collapse in only six weeks: Churchill, for example, had a high opinion of the fighting qualities of the French army. But collapse is what happened, of course, and we are still all living with the consequences. General Andre Beaufre, who in 1940 was a young Captain on the French staff, wrote in 1967:

    The collapse of the French Army is the most important event of the twentieth century.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in France, History, Military Affairs, War and Peace | 32 Comments »

    How I Learned to be the Adult – And Why I Often Forget – 2 –

    Posted by Ginny on 9th May 2007 (All posts by )

    May 10 update: Instapundit links to another discussion of Rubin by Will Wilkinson in The Economist.

    May 9 post:

    When I started my little business, I despaired when a large chain opened down the street two weeks before we did. What I should have recognized was that large chains & naïfs could see our college town needed copy shops. We survived – for quite a while. Tired and worn out, both from a pregnancy in my forties and a series of rather stupid business moves on my part, I sold out years later to a locally run company. We were doing several times the amount of business we had that first year – and, while some such shops had come and gone during thirteen years, several survived, making varying but real profits.

    I was wrong, but I was working from the gut. Paul Rubin’s “Evolution, Update: Immigration and Trade” points to why I felt as I did and why I was wrong. Just as it is probably not always wise to do what both villains & heroes do in adventure dramas – head for the high ground – we retain instincts that once helped us survive.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Bioethics, Business | 2 Comments »

    Quote of the Day

    Posted by Jonathan on 8th May 2007 (All posts by )

    Whenever I hear it said that people are ceasing to [be] told about something tremendously important at school – like history, classical music, foreign languages, Latin and Greek, ancient history, etc. – I react with the suspicion that, far from this presaging oblivion for this or that discipline or body of knowledge, for something to be ignored at school is a prelude for a significant if not huge revival of popular interest in the thing.

    Brian Micklethwait

    Posted in Education, Human Behavior, Quotations, Society | 2 Comments »

    Helpful Hints

    Posted by Ginny on 7th May 2007 (All posts by )

    On a lighter note, Jack Handey’s “deep thoughts” are always useful axioms:

    Sometimes I think you have to march right in and demand your rights, even if you don’t know what your rights are, or who the person is you’re talking to. Then, on the way out, slam the door.

    Posted in Quotations | Comments Off on Helpful Hints

    A Lit Quote

    Posted by Ginny on 7th May 2007 (All posts by )

    It is grading time; no posts but Herman Melville begins the climactic twenty-second chapter of Billy Budd:

    Who in the rainbow can draw the line where the violet tint ends and the orange tint begins? Distinctly we see the difference of the colors, but where exactly does the one first blendingly enter into the other? So with sanity and insanity. In pronounced cases there is no question about them. But in some supposed cases, in various degrees supposedly less pronounced, to draw the exact line of demarkation few will undertake tho’ for a fee some professional experts will. There is nothing namable but that some men will undertake to do it for pay.Whether Captain Vere, as the Surgeon professionally and privately surmised, was really the sudden victim of any degree of aberration, one must determine for himself by such light as this narrative may afford.

    And so, Vere argues Budd must hang; his innocence is something the martial law to which they are sworn cannot judge – it can only deal with the undeniable guilt of the act itself.

    On the other hand, you may well wonder what appropriate justice applies to those who believe Emily Dickinson was strongly influenced by the second world war, that Margaret Fuller would be appalled by war, and that one of Hester Prynne’s problems was “that adultery thing.” I was lucky this semester – I had several not just good but exceptional students who seemed to love American lit. But my students as always were truly diverse.

    Posted in Quotations | 1 Comment »

    A Muslim Lysistrata?

    Posted by demimasque on 4th May 2007 (All posts by )

    Aristophanes penned Lysistrata during the Peloponnesian War, about Greek women who manage to stop the war by withholding sex from their soldier-husbands. In a way, this is what Western women have been doing in the second half of the 20th Century. By leaving the home to work, they have made their sexual favors more dear. By earning their own wages, they have unchained themselves from supplicating reliance on the menfolk. We in the West have had a long time to get used to this transformation, and for the most part we are better off for it. I don’t have the data, but I suspect that societies where women make up more than one third of wage earners have seldom if ever gone to war against each other.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Islam | 19 Comments »

    Genes and Culture

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 3rd May 2007 (All posts by )

    This is, in part, a review of Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland (hereafter SV&C), which I am carelessly posting here without even checking to see whether actual smart people, notably the ones over at Albion’s Seedlings (to say nothing of Gene Expression), have already written it up, mainly because they’ll have done a better job than me. Notice: “in part.” The book doesn’t take long to summarize, so after the genetics I’ll wander off into culture, including but not limited to linguistics.

    Warning: spoilers. SV&C is, in a sense, a series of cliffhangers, and I’m going to reveal the ending.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Anglosphere, Book Notes, Britain, History, Predictions, Science, USA | 12 Comments »

    So What Happens If …

    Posted by Jay Manifold on 3rd May 2007 (All posts by )

    One of these guys is President and H5N1 becomes human-to-human transmissible? (Via the usual source.) As Jeff Goldstein likes to say, just askin’ …

    Posted in National Security, Politics, Science | Comments Off on So What Happens If …

    Measuring Crazy

    Posted by Shannon Love on 1st May 2007 (All posts by )

    One of my professors once made the startling statement that, “one cannot measure speed.” This came as something of surprise to those of us who had speedometers in our cars. Yet, the professor had made a profound point. In science, it is vitally important to know exactly what phenomenon one actually measures. Especially in the arena of public policy, we often act as if we have accurate measurements of phenomena when we actually do not. I think the problem is especially bad when it comes to the question of mental health.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Crime and Punishment, Politics, Science | 28 Comments »

    Usenet and Discussion Moderation: Religion and Politics

    Posted by Jonathan on 1st May 2007 (All posts by )

    Here’s a long discussion in a Usenet group devoted to bicycling that begins when a veteran, reasonable, commenter announces that he is leaving the group because he is tired of the vicious personal attacks and speech-suppression attempts that increasingly accompany discussions of technical topics as well as anything that veers toward politics. The commenter singles out another contributor for having driven him to decide, finally, to stop commenting.

    Read the rest of this entry »

    Posted in Civil Society, Internet, Politics | 6 Comments »