Offering links and thoughts on the Arts, Politics, Political Philosophy and Foreign Affairs.
‘Writing on Iraq, he suggests that many troubles in the Arab world can be linked to America’s limited understanding of the region, thirst for oil, and need to deal with terrorism. He provides a chilling look at the life of 9/11 hijacker Ziad Jarrah, asserting that “the very normalcy of his upbringing and the old hedonism giving way to a sudden need for absolution are much more unsettling than the warning signs and the zeal of a true believer.”
Megan McArdle At Bloomberg, Obamacare inflates its numbers. I feel sick:
When reality doesn’t line up with political promises, massaging the data to the point of absurdity becomes necessary.
‘The administration counted stand-alone dental plans in order to claim that 7.3 million people had signed up during the first open enrollment period. Without the addition of the dental plans, enrollment would have very slightly missed its target of 7 million enrollees. Moreover, simple arithmetic indicates that it is still counting them in its current claims about enrollment.’
Perhaps even some big data folks and (S)cience driven realists are realizing that when it comes to ideology and politics, technocracy and bureaucracy, the pursuit of truth is often left to bad masters.
Andrew Michta At The American Interest: ‘Putin Targets The Scandinavians:’
Not a Cold War, really, but let’s have some strategy:
If you’re in Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, you’re looking at Georgia, Ukraine and you’re own Russian populations, Putin’s actions and you’ve probably been thinking a lot lately.
‘As 2015 approaches, NATO finds itself confronted with the urgent need to address the fundamentals of deterrence and collective defense in general, and to go beyond the important symbols of “persistent rotations.”
Thanks for stopping by, and to everyone that has.
No deal is probably better than a bad deal, and perhaps this kind of dealing:
‘Some adjustments are inherent in the inevitable process of historic evolution. But we must avoid an outcome in which Iran, freed from an onerous sanctions regime, emerges as a de facto nuclear power leading an Islamist camp, while traditional allies lose confidence in the credibility of American commitments and follow the Iranian model toward a nuclear-weapons capability, if only to balance it.’
I’m guessing it’s certainly true that some people in Iran (the Green Revolution) would like to be out from under the mullah-controlled, Basij supported deep state. The ruling cadre has plenty of political enemies within Iran (across broader groups, from religious minorities to the politically and economically oppressed).
Yet, for our sakes, it’s tough to deal with shady bunch of fiercely nationalistic, former Revolutionary guard types in charge: Perfectly happy to get nukes, become the big dogs in the region, keep funding Hizbollah and doing all the shady, destablilizing things they’ve been doing, just now with nukes.
This would continue to be really bad for the Sunnis in Iraq, the Saudis, and the Israelis, among others, as well as pretty much all American interests.
Whether it’s aggressive, untrustworthy terrorist-funding types, to more moderate calculating, wheeling-dealing types buying time and maximum advantage, this was always a longer shot which required serious diplomacy.
I’d love to be proven wrong, but I suspect this approach always required experience, timing, testicular fortitude, and enough realist leadership that seems sorely lacking in this White House.
The clock keeps ticking.
Feel free to highlight my ignorance. Any thoughts and comments are welcome.
Over at the nearly completely erased Syrian/Iraq border and to the Kurds left to fight for their survival.
The Turks really can’t afford an independent Kurdistan, but they probably really can’t afford an ISIS-controlled Islamo-thunderdome next door, either. Erdogan has to keep his opposition down, and still ride the Islamically resurgent wave rolling throughout the region.
From this NY Times piece on the state whatever’s left of the Iraqi Army:
“I told the Americans, don’t give any weapons through the army — not even one piece — because corruption is everywhere, and you will not see any of it,” said Col. Shaaban al-Obeidi of the internal security forces, also a Sunni tribal leader in Anbar Province. “Our people will steal it.”
“The galling part of this whole process is that it really has no impact on what we and our professors actually do in our classroom. Perhaps I should not say this publicly. The issue is not one of of being opposed to high standards. We already do have high standards. We believe strongly in pedagogy and teaching excellence. The issue is that the assumptions and thought process behind this sort of modeling is fundamentally wrong-headed, diminishing, rather than enhancing education.”
It can sure get in the way if you’re trying to teach or trying to learn.
uploaded by mattbucher
“Creativity” is probably not the best institutional goal. The social sciences often have their own aims.
Addition: I think it’s going too far, trying to apply libertarian economics onto education, but Milton Friedman on Education is thought-provoking.
and more broadly and philosophically: Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…From The Access Resource Network: Phillip Johnson’s “Daniel Dennett’s Dangerous Idea’…Repost-From Scientific Blogging: The Humanities Are In Crisis-Science Is Not
From a reader:
‘Think Foreigner’s ‘Eye Of The Tiger’ meets a standard Journey/Eddie Money-esque power rock ballad, chock full of all the standard cliches: ‘highest fever’ ‘roll the dice’ ”new horizon’ brand new start’ ‘hit the right spot‘
All of this tacked onto the end of Schwarzenegger’s pure uncut 80’s sci-fi action thriller…
Almost too much to bear.
***Before you mock, the movie’s theme was composed by Harold Faltermeyer, of Axel F fame, and is nothing to shake a stick at. It takes real talent to put songs into your head and keep them there. The vocalist and performer John Parr, of St. Elmo’s Fire fame was more than a one-hit wonder as well.
Via David Thompson, if you don’t have time to watch Gymkata, this is the next best thing.
What if an Olympic gymnast, sporting a wicked mullet, went through a rigorous training montage, then on to a top-secret mission to secure the national defense in a distant, fictitious land?
They play for keeps in Karabal:
Still looking for awesome badness on this blog. If you think you’ve got some awesome badness, preferably 80’s awesome badness, send it my way.
That’s all there is to say about that.
‘The doctor sees all the weakness of mankind; the lawyer all the wickedness, the theologian all the stupidity.’
Still funny in my opinion: Who reads the newspapers?
But, still to me, even funnier: Yes, that’s a Chinese brothel.
This is a classy joint.
Repost: From The NY Times Via A & L Daily: Helen Vendler On Wallace Stevens ‘The Plain Sense Of Things’
Vendler reviewed John Serio’s new “Selected Poems” of Wallace Stevens.
“Stevens’s conscience made him confront the chief issues of his era: the waning of religion, the indifferent nature of the physical universe, the theories of Marxism and socialist realism, the effects of the Depression, the uncertainties of philosophical knowledge, and the possibility of a profound American culture, present and future.”
“Stevens’s poetry oscillates, throughout his life, between verbal ebullience and New England spareness, between the high rhetoric of England (and of religion) and the “plain sense of things” that he sometimes felt to be more American…”
See Also On This Site: Trying to stick something against his poems: Wednesday Poem: Wallace Stevens-Anecdote of The Jar…Wednesday Poem: Wallace Stevens, The Snow Man…Friday Poem: Wallace Stevens And A Quote By David Hume
On IQ and opportunity, the entirety of which can be found here:
“Sowell’s argument is a relatively simple one: “innate” mental abilities do not develop spontaneously but must undergo development, which is differentially fostered by different cultures, even when the abilities are general and abstract and do not consist of items of cultural knowledge. “
“…Sowell’s approach splits the difference between “nature” and “nurture“…“
There’s a lot going on here, but notice Sowell doesn’t negate the injustice and historical legacy of slavery in the United States (a different, deeper and more raw discussion), but instead focuses in a more positive direction: The never equal distribution of intelligence occurs naturally and is fostered and developed differently. Across our society, never absolutely equally represented immigrant groups thrive and advance within different professions and with different skill-sets.
From this, young people, especially, can thrive not only when they have access to education (where all of our money can easily be wasted in over-promised, under delivering classrooms, though admittedly addressing some of the worst problems there are), but also out in the labor market, where small gains and new skills can be learned daily, where attitude matters, and where just showing up can be a valuable lesson learned.
**I realize this doesn’t address the black market, people learning useful, but criminal skills, and having to learn reasonable life skills that can conflict with even basic job requirements, whatever their background.
We’re all arguably better off when someone’s innate intelligence, acquired skills, drive and determination get them ahead, supposing their ability and effort isn’t put to criminal ends.
We’re all arguably worse off when getting ahead has even more to do than it does now with mere political patronage, redistributing the wealth of others, nepotism, and is dependent even more upon who you know rather than what you’ve accomplished and done for yourself.
Feel free to highlight my ignorance. Any thoughts and comments are welcome.