‘This recent conflict may well blow over, but the tension that sparked it in the first place is not going anywhere. Vietnam and China both claim the Paracel Islands, and the Spratly Islands farther south are claimed by yet four more countries in Southeast Asia, but China claims almost the entire sea, more than a thousand miles from its own mainland, well south of Vietnam, and nearly all the way down to the coast of Malaysia.’
‘Any student who believes that the university is an “unsafe,” racially hostile environment is unlikely to take full advantage of its resources and will likely bear a permanent racial chip on his shoulder. Becoming an adult means learning the difference between a real problem and a trivial one.’
Ideologues are attracted to existing bureaucratic and institutional structures, like college campuses, where they aim to have permanent impact.
Victimhood is a state of mind, incentivizing people to deal with genuine and perceived injustices through the lens of ideology, where they are expected to form a permanent class of the oppressed.
‘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.”
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.
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.”
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.
‘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.
“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…”
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.
How do you preserve and conserve many laws and traditions and institutions likely worth preserving and conserving, and the authority necessary to maintain them with perhaps many people less connected in their lives and minds to those laws, traditions and institutions nowadays?
Are we becoming more individualistic?
Without that presumed moral fabric, and with more choice and opportunity available, will more Americans seek security and purpose in the secular ideologies so often leading to a rather Euro-statist secular authority?
Do you trust the institutional authority claimed by many standard secular liberal humanists on the way toward secular ideals?
How do the more often individualist and atheist libertarians find common ground with social and religious conservatives?
‘One of the problems of modern society is the difficulty many people now have with accepting and obeying rules that they neither made themselves nor can they deduce from any of their own, self-chosen first principles, chief amongst which is the democratic one that a cat may look at a king. That is why, if you take the risk of asking a person who is behaving in a mildly antisocial way to desist, he will suddenly turn moral philosopher and demand an incontrovertible proof that he should not behave in that way.’
Speaking of authority, at least one Russian lawmaker thought it was time to take post-Soviet authoritarianism, self-serving ethno-nationalism, and Russia’s low birth-rate to the next level.
-Naturally, Putin still offers photo-ops of himself bare-chested: embodying the virility, strength, and charisma that the Russian people will need going forward to conquer nature and vanquish all enemies.
A meeting of one of Vlad’s country jaunts was caught, miraculously, on tape and in English:
You can’t enjoy the highs if you haven’t endured the lows, am I right?
Our author reviews Evan Osnos’ book about his 8 years spent living on the ground in China:
‘For its part, the government seems to be making efforts to get a grasp on public opinion, though they stem more from its need to buttress its own chances of survival than from any democratic instinct. Attempts at opinion polling have not gone well, mainly because most Chinese are wary about voicing criticism of the government to a stranger on the phone. Nevertheless, there is the sense that the leaders are aware that the ground is shifting. They just don’t know where it is shifting to—and no one else does, either. There is an obsession with establishing the “central melody” of the current culture, but the tune keeps slipping away.’
As previously posted:
(Q & A starts at about minute 6:20)
This blog is still trying to better understand China. Troost traveled for months around the country, went with the flow, and wrote about his experiences.
Some takeaways: China’s undergoing rapid, almost seething, sociological, economic, and some political change (we’ll see how that pans out given the old Communist state structure and involvement in the economy). It’s got over a billion people, a huge landmass, and a long history, and can make individuals feel very small indeed.
What’s life like in Beijing for an American editing an English-language Business Magazine?
Interesting quote on author Eveline Chao’s censor:
‘I understood then the mundane nature of all that kept her in place. A job she didn’t like, but worked hard to keep. A system that would never reward her for good work, only punish her for mistakes. And in exchange: Tutors. Traffic. Expensive drumming lessons. They were the same things that kept anyone, anywhere, in place — and it was the very ordinariness of these things that made them intractable.’