Monday, October 20, 2014

Fear and Trembling and Republicans unto Death

Grzegorz Klaman, Fear and Trembling. Installation piece, Schmidt Center Gallery, Florida Atlantic University, April-May 2007.
David Brooks takes on the Quality of Fear:
There’s been a lot of tutting-tutting about the people who are overreacting to the Ebola virus. There was the lady who showed up at the airport in a homemade hazmat suit.

West of Eden: Syria update

Sheikh Rasho Rasho Hussein, keeper of the Yazidi temple in Khanka Kavin, Iraq. Photo by Julia Harte/National Geographic, July 2013.
The collusion of seemingly unrelated news items converging on the town of Ayn al-Arab/Kobanê is getting really interesting. It's not really part of the Rectification task to spend so much time covering these things, but I feel the press is not putting them together very well, so I hope readers don't mind. I'll get back to the literary criticism soon. (Tuesday is Brooksday!)

Airdrop supplies from the US included lethal weaponry for the first time, we heard first thing in the morning, with the weaponry being provided not by Americans but by Iraqi Kurds, and then over the BBC that the Turkish government has suddenly changed its mind about permitting volunteer Kurdish fighters to cross the Turkish border to Kobanê—only, officially, not Turkish Kurds, just those same Iraqi Kurd peshmerga, for whom a corridor will be opened along the border from Iraq.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

A smylere with a knyf

The Temple of Mars Ultor, Rome, completed in 2 B.C.E., commemorating the Battle of Philippi. Ancient History Encyclopedia.

Lt. Col. Dr. John Nagl, Headmaster of the Haverford School, former president of the Center for a New American Security, worshiper at the Temple of Mars Armipotent, and all-round person who likes to find unusual ways of using the word "knife" in book titles—Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, 2002; Knife Fights, 2014—is on the book tour circuit mongering the latter, a Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice (you can catch him with his co-"author" on the army's revised counterinsurgency manual, Gen. Dr. David Petraeus, being interviewed by Max Boot, M.A., no military rank for some reason, at the 92nd Street Y for $45 if you don't mind one of the cheap seats, the night before Halloween).

Saturday, October 18, 2014

White House Fool Report: Ugh, lawyers

Barrel pillory, from Deadly Planet.
Hey Mr. President, you wouldn't be airing out the linens and dusting up the old black sites and revving up the racks and thumbscrews for a spin, by any chance? Because Charlie Savage is reporting in the Times that
President Obama’s legal team is debating whether to back away from his earlier view [on the United Nations Convention against Torture]. It is considering reaffirming the Bush administration’s position that the treaty imposes no legal obligation on the United States to bar cruelty outside its borders, according to officials who discussed the deliberations on the condition of anonymity.

West of Eden: Syria report

Kurdish wedding ceremony, Kobane, 1960s. Via ARA News.
Glad to be able to report that in his first press briefing since the war on the Caliphate began in June, commander Lloyd Austin stressed that US efforts to not kill civilians are not merely humanitarian, but part of the overall strategy:

Friday, October 17, 2014

American exceptionism

Harold Lloyd in Why Worry? (1923). Via Margaret Gunning.
David Brooks has decided he'd like to be an idealist in politics, but not a high idealist. He wants to be a low idealist, striving for low ideals:
I’m here to make the case for low idealism. The low idealist rejects the politics of innocence. The low idealist recoils from any movement that promises “new beginnings,” tries to offer transcendent “bliss to be alive” moments or tries to fill people’s spiritual voids.
What exactly are low ideals? Are they ideals without the incense and vestments, like low church? Or humble ideals, that keep their heads down in the presence of the squire? Or is low idealism a kind of idealism the way low speed is a kind of speed, a kind of build-up-your-self-esteem everybody-gets-a-trophy way of saying not very idealistic?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

It's Retroactionary Tuesday!

Updated 10/15/2014
Image by The Daily What, via Slashfilm.
Shorter David Brooks, "The Sorting Election", New York Times, 14 October 2014:
I mean which do you prefer, the Bay Area and the quaint old backward-looking, high-regulation, walkable-neighborhood broccoli information economy of the 1990s, or Houston and the hot new forward-driving, petroleum-stained, big-freedom raw-meat energy economy of the 1980s? The country's big enough for the both of them, right?
He's in his highest-gloss nonpartisan just-sayin' mode today, calling forth wonderful peals of invective from Driftglass, who can be driven very nearly insane by that "who, me, conservative? Why I'm just an innocent bystander" pose, and the faux-barbaric yawp coming from someone who until recently believed Applebee's had a salad bar:

Monday, October 13, 2014

How a bill becomes bull

Brother Huckabee explains it all (thanks, Tengrain):
we've got three branches of government
and each are equal to the other
the founders took extraordinary measures
to prevent too much power being grabbed by one person or group...

Annals of derp: Et tu, Shankar?

Image via New Schoolers.
I love the fact that NPR runs regular reports on social science research, and especially the Morning Edition appearances of Shankar Vedantam, a kind of indirect corrective to the vagaries of David Brooks, but today they ran a bit off the rails in discussing an extremely elegant study by Matthew Mendez and Christian Grose of USC.
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