Remove All Doubt
Friday, April 29
It Just Isn't Vietnam
Read this article dispelling the hackneyed comparison between Iraq and Vietnam.
"You get the sense that Earth could be invaded by Klingons and some editorialist would hear “echoes of Vietnam” amid their disruptor blasts."
Friday, April 22
Didn't know where to put this
I decided here because I don't have anything scholarly to say about it. But, it is about scholarship. Do we really need a special academic journal dedicated to the work of JRR Tolkien? I know there are a lot of academics who played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons, but are there really 4 good articles on Tolkien than need to come out each year? I don't know that I've overwhelmed by the current choices:
Light-elves, Dark-elves, and Others: Tolkien's Elvish Problem
The Adapted Text: The Lost Poetry of Beleriand
Do the Atlantis story and abandon Eriol-Saga"
Sir Orfeo: A Middle English Version By J.R.R. Tolkien
Identifying England's Lönnrot
When Philology Becomes Ideology: The Russian Perspective of J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien's Prose Style and its Literary and Rhetorical Effects
Wednesday, April 6
Intelligence Critique Fatigue
Check out this very interesting article by the always thoughtful Judge Posner about the failures of hindsight in analyzing and restructuring US intelligence.
Monday, April 4
Detailed Election Data
Check out this article in the WSJ which summarizes the trends in 2004 election data by congressional district. Interesting stuff.
Wednesday, March 30
Soccer Violence in the Axis of Evil
All right, I could not make this up.
Apparently there was a brawl at Kim Il Sung Stadium, where home-town favorites the North Koreans were playing Iran. The fracas erupted after a questioned call by the referee, who hails from, that's right, Syria...
Hollywood and Communism
Read this article from the WSJ, about The Motorcycle Diaries and Hollywood's canonization of Che Guevara. I am continually appalled by the number of Che shirts I see on poseurs here in the capital of the free world.
In fact, I was at a Cuban bar in hip Adams Morgan this weekend for a friend's going away party, which was decorated with numerous Che portraits. Revolting, I said. When I am in Italian restaurants, there are no glowing pictures of Il Duce, nor altars to Uncle Joe Stalin in a Russian bar that I frequent. Why does Guevara get a pass? Mostly ignorance, I suppose. Anyway, I've been fuming about this for a while, and this article is worth a read.
Monday, March 28
Hollywood Gets Something Right
Now here's something I don't get to say very often: Richard Gere is right on an issue.
Check out his opposition to the proposed lifting of the EU embargo on arms sales to China, here.
Thursday, March 24
Title IX Changes and Media Viewpoint
The Washington Post reports today on last week's clarification of Title IX rules which aim to prevent gender discrimination in college sports.
One way to headline this would be "Changes to Title IX Debated" (neutral) or "Colleges Support Title IX Changes" (positive). The WaPo choice? "Title IX Web Surveys Criticized by NCAA." The article follows the slant of the headline as well, with only one paragraph - the last one - quoting the supporters of the rule clarification, and the remainder of the article firmly in support of the old quota system.
For a more detailed description of the change - which clarifies one of the regulatory safe harbors - see the Sports Law Blog, here.
Tuesday, March 22
Dude, They Are Not Trustfunders
Their proper name is Trustifarians, and they're not a recent phenomena. They were everywhere at my boarding school, and they really do try to dress like hippies - even when driving home in the brand new BMW they got for their 16th birthday.
Wednesday, March 16
The mother in front of me in line, when asked how old her child was, responded, "He's 19 and 1/2 months." I mean, kids are cute and all, and I understand that parents pay pretty close attention (at least when they're young) but, really, doesn't "almost two" get you all you need? Or can this little guy expect to be begging for a car for his 192nd birthday?
Tuesday, March 15
If you're REALLY bored
For those insufficiently bored with my lack of posting, I offer a whole new way to be bored. You can check out my history musings blog, which I've created (for reasons more throughly explained there) basically to keep this blog's general interest/political approach. And because I don't feel like I can put up half-baked ideas here (I feel more like I need 3/4 baked), but I want to put them up somewhere. So, go check it out if you'd like. But I'm not sure I recommend it.
Monday, March 7
Astronauts Who Don't Fly
This article details the difficulty of getting into space - even when you are an astronaut. Apparently, "a third of the nation's nearly 150 astronauts have never flown in space."
Can you imagine the conversations they must have to endure?
"You're an astronaut - how exciting! What is space like?"
"Uh, actually I've never been in space. But we have some great simulators."
[sounds of crickets chirping].
Saturday, March 5
Tuesday, March 1
The Arab Street - A vanquished cliche
Check out this article by Christopher Hitchens, my favorite ex-editor of the Nation.
I won't hold my breath waiting for retractions from all the left-wing pundits who claimed to know the feelings of "The Arab Street," but I will happily note how wrong they were. Ole Hitch does so quite well.
Monday, February 28
Don't Blame Wal-Mart
Check out this piece by former Clinton Treasury Sec'y Robert Reich. I don't generally agree with Reich - for example, he supports a higher minimum wage and government offered wage insurance.
But in this piece, written in light of the blocking of a Walmart store in NY, he correctly frames the issue and points out that consumers drive the market, not star chamber decisions by evil corporations, which is a refreshing admission to see in Pravda - I mean the New York Times.
More Patriot Act
I need the time to do some of the spade work to make this argument more convincing, both for the blog and for my life. But, for now, I just point you to this post from the Volokh Conspiracy pointing out that even the ACLU thinks the majority of the PATRIOT Act is perfectly acceptable. That's not to say, of course, that they're not very, very unhappy with those small parts of it they don't like, but it does indicate that there's a big gap between public perception of the PATRIOT Act and the reality.
The biggest problem with the debate is that the act is usually discussed without reference to the surrounding criminal investigation context. I'm no expert here (like I said, I need to do the spadework to nail this down) but it's my understanding that the ACLU and others are really fired up about the "library book search authority," as one example. The thing is, first of all, the provision is much more general, aimed not at libraries but at a broader set of documents. That provides greater authority, of course, but it also indicates that Congress and the administration were not specifically after your reading habits. And as for the breadth of the authority - it is quite easy to get the subpoena to look at the documents. As I understand it (again, sorry, no time to do the spade work right now), you go before a judge, say you need to see these documents and he or she is more or less required to grant the subpoena. Yes, that's pretty close to a rubber stamp. BUT NOT MUCH MORE OF A RUBBER STAMP THAN GETTING A GRAND JURY SUPOENA FOR DOCUMENTS.
If a grand jury will indict a ham sandwich, how easy do you think it is for a prosecutor (keep in mind, the prosecutor is in there alone - there's no opposing counsel) to convince them that they need to look at a few pieces of paper? My limited experience with grand juries is that they'd give you a subpoena for absolutely anything you asked them for. Library records included.
Of course, one may think that the government has too much authority to subpoena the papers of run of the mill criminals - the scam artists, the drug dealers, and everyone else - but it seems to me that's where the real question should be.
Saturday, February 26
The Etiology of Bullshit
Check out this amusing and on-point article which discusses the provenance of bullshit.
Where does it come from? Professor Harry Frankfurt of Princeton (possibly a real person, or perhaps this too is bullshit) tells us:
"The production of bullshit is stimulated whenever a person’s obligations or opportunities to speak about some topic exceed his knowledge of the facts that are relevant to that topic."
Seems right to me.
Friday, February 25
Washington, The Nation's Weather Wimp
Check out this article, which aptly summarizes my feelings on DC and its pathological inability to deal with minor weather problems.
It recalls my favorite quote from Mayor Williams, who a few years ago was quoted as being "literally concerned" about what Washington would do in response to a snow storm. Not concerned in any vague or metaphorical sense, but quite concretely, and literally, concerned.
Thursday, February 24
I KNEW Fords were better
Now that it's NASCAR season again, I feared I'd have my typical problem of being a Chevy guy pulling for a Ford driver (Dale Jarrett in the 88 UPS Ford). Turns out, however, that I can let go of the Chevy thing because I've learned Chevy's deep, dark little secret: They're named after some French dude.
I'm a Ford guys now - all the way.
Swiss you say? Swiss, French, whatever. There're all communists anyway.
Monday, February 21
The good news is that I seem to be in demand for summer work around the department. Which is nice. The bad news is that four years out of law school I seem to be worth about $10 an hour. Sigh.