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Atomized junior- The Web log

Tuesday, 31 August, 2004
Unclear on the Concept

Standing somewhere towards the summit of pointlessness, an article I read, took time to batter Wikipedia about the ears: Librarian: Don't use Wikipedia as source. I got this off of Blogdex over the weekend, so I am aware it has been discussed thoroughly. I even read Boing Boings rejoinder which relates an answer to the main complaint. Two Columnists for a Syracuse newspaper reference Wikipedia, a librarian writes in to say Wiki is icky because anybody, just anybody, can write an article and anybody can edit one. I can feel the dark forces of entropy gather around me even as I write this. I can feel the dressed stacked stones of our precarious civilization shift uneasly about their base. My first thought was what part of peer to peer, open source wasn't understood here (hey, you can look it up on Wikipedia) I've never seen a wiki that didn't spell out pretty clearly what it was about up front. Wikipedia is no exception. Boing Boing's anecdote demonstrates the nature of many to many in P2P. Someone did insert random changes into a number of Wikipedia articles and they were all changed back, ironed out. The nature of Wiki's is having a large number of people looking over your virtual shoulder at what is written.

The Story here is a librarian being uncormfortable with something holding itself out as an encyclopedia without authority emblems or gatekeeper activity. I have, at my fingertips, a world of vetted controlled information. Just on the other side of UM Libraries'   Research Port (tm) which we pay millions of dollars for. No, you can't look at it. I can't link you to a centissima of it. I could quote a brief passage, paraphrase a bit more - within the confines of fair use, which is, rapidly diminishing towards a non-euclidian point. Then I could reference my sources, MLA, APA, Chicago, House Style, for you to look up long after the moment has passed, at your disconvenience. Even then; One of my last Wikpedia links was for their Drum and Bass article. All right, Encyclopedia Britannica; bring me your official branded information on Drum and Bass, and the twins aphex (not Bush). Oh, you don't have one, because you don't care about tin-eared hedonistic lowlife little filcher's. What? "[There are] no thugs in our house, are there dear? We told little Graham he had to be a good boy."
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Wednesday, 25 August, 2004
A thousand ways

With a thousand ways to win why worry about the ways we could lose
the tarbaby I have an old post which never got beyond a series of sentence fragments on a sticky (Mac OS X) which has been cluttering my desktop for months now. Finally a Metafilter thread Iraq | Metafilter inspired me to wrap it up and kick it out the door. The war in Iraq has become a tarbaby of U S prestige and energy. I've always kept in mind my brother-in-law Al's reply last year to my question of what people in this town, who were not administration true believers, thought about the war in Iraq and its architects. He said "people see them as coming from your world" - by which he meant, notwithstanding my being just a clerk, academia. Further he said, most people think it will end in disaster. The Iraq war alarmed me. Not only from a moral/ethical standpoint of what does and doesn't constitute a just war. Which just leaves you open to being despised by 'men' like Victor Davis Hanson as being one who would sit idly by the kingdom of David as the violent bear it away. Yea and I have sat by the waters of babylon and seen it borne back and forth, so go down to the beach with your little shovel -- Victor -- and pack sand up your asshole. The thinness, transparency, of the reasons given, the tangentialness to the problem of jihadists. The vulgar browbeating of dissenters. These things bothered me. Even from a practical standpoint; of the war being fought to accomplish good objectives. Am I the only one who accounts the near impossibility of war and its limited ways of being, doing anything more cheaply - more efficiently than the universe of not war. But the people who made policy in this town are players and players are real men and real men don't negotiate they make fists A picture named Don.gif and take action.

Its not just that the Iraq war was a cooked up adventure, it might have succeeded for that. It had more to do with the fact that they -the neoconservative military policy contingent - didn't seem to understand what they were doing. They didn't appreciate the enormity and complexity of their undertaking, They over-regarded the value of technoligized military. Over-played their hand in a ill conceived march to war. They under-regarded the reality of invading and occupying a sovereign state. A few months ago I listened to William Kristol editor of the Weekly Standard on the Terry Gross show Fresh Air 18 May 2004 brush aside questions about the war: the American people not misled [because] everyone understood the true geo-political underpinnings involved ... [the costs?] defense spending -[the U S is a] Rich Country we can afford it. He then went on to call the Bush administration incompetent for losing [his] war. That which is not in brackets above comes from notes I scribbled at the time. Even if its leaders were dangerous and of doubtful character and stability. Sovereignty withdraws from illegitmate rulers - back to the people who gave it, and no where else. There was something rotten about the Iraq endeavor from the beginning, something seen in the distance between what they were saying and what they were doing. Something the Iraqi people could only come to see as a subversion of their sovereignty. The whole endeavor was not sensible and not just in hindsight, but obviously and from it's inception.

Closing of the Neo-conservative Mind One of the questions in all this is why couldn't anyone in the administration see this. Holding together let alone wholly transforming a culture comprised of three mutually ant-ethical population elements. For all the supposed intellectualism in the jerky version of dream this administration is transfixed by, there just seems to be a lot they don't get. They believe themselves immune to the possibility of failure - never let public policy be made by people who cannot be wrong. The dream they had - part of that is what you find in Naomi Klein's article in the current Harper's Baghdad Year Zero (they don't do linking, p. 43- Sept. 2004). This is the other thing you get from that metafilter thread above. Pillaging Iraq in pursuit of of a neocon Utopia Iraq was going to be the ultimate example of mass experimental social engineering a society set up on a ßpure free market foundation. This is no longer news. The Washington Post's David Ignatius, and the AEI fellow who wrote the memo the Village Voice recounted in April, have recounted L. Paul Bremmer's sense of mandate in some depth. So to has the procession of carpet bags to Iraq. Naomi Klein's contribution is to point out that this desire and need for Iraq to perform as showcase to laissez fair principles even when flexibility and pragmatism were called for undercut any possibility of success on the grounds initially outlined. That this conceptual vision was too intertwined with the fundamental reasons for this war to be cast aside to prevent insurrection and civil war. These were the fruits of victory. The money was authorized, seed money only was needed. The contracts prepared. The ideological wages of war sat in stacks waiting to be paid out. Feeding into all this was the elusive sense of destiny that hung about this administration and its camp followers like the shadow of a carrion bird. Listen to this last blast of the true believer trumpet and disparagement of pragmatism

...foolhardy adventurers head out to eradicate some evil and to realize some golden future. They get halfway along their journey and find they are unprepared for the harsh reality they suddenly face. It's too late to turn back, so they reinvent their mission. They toss out illusions and adopt an almost desperate pragmatism. They never do realize the utopia they initially dreamed about, but they do build something better than what came before. In Iraq, America's Shakeout Moment

Considering pragmatism and wanting be partresponsible faction has no time now for the witless applause lines and not the the jeering jackdaws on left and right repeat to themselves to their own perpetual self-admiration and delight. of David Brooks' imagination. I note two recent Alternet articles AlterNet: The Unbearable Costs of Empire and AlterNet: War on Iraq: Empire Falls The first article asks is/was the United States ever able to pay for empire, a coherent campaign of wars of preemption, or even a de facto policing of the world. In many undiscussed ways this war was an attempt to spin a relative advantage in military prowess now into a more permanent advantage they knew could not afford and would not exist later. It all depended on being able to be done as cheaply as they envisioned it. The second looks at the hollow bean that bounces on the surface of this roil. Is the United States able within the bounds of its constituted national character able to play part of any kind of overt political empire with out changing. Without being led by a faction of men to become a different country. This is opposed to economic and moral leadership americans always believed we espouse and found expression with President Wilson in World War i and its aftermath.

An episode like the iraq war which even if in the long run settles into a more muted struggle can never be counted a success. For all ridicule that the Neo-conservatives have heaped on modern education and multiculturalism, one cannot look at the array of post graduate degrees behind this debacle unparalleled in the stunning ignorance of its approach, and ask these people to take a look at their own programs, valuations, ideos, and conceptions of rigor. And answer for what it lacks.

Thoughtlessness I want to shoe horn one last thought in here. I read a book review of two new issues of work by Hannah Arendt a while back Arendt's Judgment | Mark Greif. The reviewer turned the piece around two thoughts: the meaning of Arendt's well-known phrase from Eichmann in Jerusalem "the banality of evil" a construct pointing a ordinariness or accessibility to evil. The other question is why Arendt continued to write and defend Heidegger after the war. Greif assigned to these a concept of thoughtlessness. The seed of adopting bad opinions, allowing them in others, and the absence of re examination. Similarly In this war It's architects saw a number of goals and a number of outcomes. It seemed to them that the enterprise could easily survive any number of partial failures, because regime change in Iraq would accomplish so many positive things. The ultimate failure of imagination, foresight,and moral sensibility, the downside to their intoxication with themselves, is that for all the thousand ways to win in this gamble. There were also a thousand ways to lose.
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Thursday, 19 August, 2004
Brain in Park

Haven't written much in the last week. I've had two idea's in mind which haven't been going anywhere. The first was from a Reuter's story on Bobby Fischer who I've been following in the news with my friend Robert Bratton. A sub-heading read "the Saga of Bobby Fischer". Turning to Robert, who was an English major, I say: "So when does something officially become a saga?". Helpfully Robert answers "Gee I dunno, sounds like the sort of thing somebody should look up." If you want answers - there is no better person to go to than a librarian. Eventually, after many long strenuous minutes turning the pages of my Webster's 7th collegiate to get to the S's I find the answer. A saga is (largely) any story told using, or fitting in to any of the assorted conventions of a Norse saga. Since then I've been partially occupied trying to re-tell Bobby Fischer's recent life story as a saga. "So, how's that working for you, you ask?" In response - I - in a subtle example of artful mis-direction change the subject.

Michelle Malkin came out with a book the other week entitled In defense of internment which, as the title suggests is a defense of mass concentrated detention of peoples in specific and general grounds. That is not only the the internment of U.S. Citizen Japanese-Americans during WWII, but defending it in terms of validating it as a political tool to be used when convenient. This seems a bit of a stretch coming from someone I've regarded hereforeto as being with the merry melodie right, as opposed to the loony tune right. Maybe, she's just ambitious. At any rate I decided I wanted to take a look at the book before I commented on it. In other Michelle Maglalang Malkin news: missed the event but saw some posts Michelle Malkin, Deposed Leader of the Coalition of the Insane | Oliver Willis (with Quick time of event) on her gig on the Chris Mathews show. Where she apparently tried the Matt Drudge Tactic of public talking in the legitimate media bout third source rumors and inuendo picked up from from the dust and repeating them without putting herself on record. I'm only surprised she seems surprised that she wasn't allowed to get away with it. She's been in that Fox news hot house so long she may have forgotten what it takes to get a point across in the real world (your reputation).
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Tuesday, 17 August, 2004
From Yale to Y'all, the Twang Bar King, or hang'n down with traiter Bush.

The line traiter Bush isn't mine and probably isn't what you think it is. It's from a recent opinion piece by historian Victor Hanson Victor Davis Hanson on Bush Hatred on National Review Online. I begin to feel I'm seeing a little too much of Mr. Hanson recently. The article title in print: "On Loathing Bush: It[base ']s not about what he does", carries that extra nuance, which telegraphs that he will say you can't dislike Bush without engaging in irrational and hypocritical emotionalism. About three quarters through you reach the section labeled RENEGADE ARISTOCRAT followed by: George Bush is a traitor of the most frightening sort to his class: He is not an ideological tribune like Roosevelt or Kennedy, but someone far worse, who seems to dislike the entire baggage of sophisticated, highbrow society. Now it's clear. It is the establishment elite he is traitor to; those dammable continent-edgers, east and left coasters, not folk. He is really a hero, a champion of the people.

I heard President Bush in a stump speech the other night - he was telling the audience that he was gonna git Al Qeada. I wondered whether it was just my imagination or has the President's speechifyin' picked up an extra twang as of late. Whether some condition has affected his ability to git all the way through a gerand, heightened his taste for cornpone. Victor Hanson has noticed: For the Left, Mr. Bush is automatically under a cloud of suspicion; he is an unapologetic twanger who likes guns, barbeques, NASCAR, "the ranch," and pick-up trucks. Gosh he left out mom and apple pie. And puppies he left out puppies.

Hanson thinks that we hate Bush because he has taken to imitating the voice of people Karl Rove believes are too ignorant to understand they are being condescended to. Or maybe we are religion bigots: Similarly, Bush's Christianity seems evangelical and literal. It comes across as disturbing to liberals of the country who see religion as a mere social formality at best, useful for weddings and funerals, perhaps comforting at Christmas and Easter of course, but otherwise a potential threat to the full expression of lifestyle "choices". Oh my, who would be like that? Victor will tell you: Episcopalian, Unitarian, or Congregationalist, perhaps even mainstream but quiet Methodists or Presbyterians. His next sentence make clear he does not regard these as real religion. As a Congregationalist, I would like to take this moment to thank Mr. Hanson for putting his words in our mouths, for his own purposes. I'll continue to stand by the UCC and its Just Peace covenants. Note the "scare" quotes he drapes around "choices" you also get those in the line: "Pushy" neocons [~] not Shimon Peres groupies [~] advise him on Israel. No missing the point there. It seems he feels the National Review's readership will not respond to subtly. He gives them nothing they can't use.

In short, the Left hates George W. Bush for who he is rather than what he does. Southern conservatism, evangelical Christianity, a black-and-white worldview, and a wealthy man's disdain for elite culture [~] none by itself earns hatred, of course, but each is a force multiplier of the other and so helps explain the evolution of disagreement into pathological venom.
Like the line of his above, where you might have noticed the word "seems" between the president and his affected religious beliefs, you can also note George W. Bush's wealthy man's disdain for elite culture, is not a disdain for wealth, power, privilege, and separation. No it is simply a matter of style, like a silver-clasp string necktie

Victor Davis Hanson has been ubiquitous for the last few years - that observation comes from a friendly review of one of his books. Handy; though, because I always get ubiquitous mixed up with obsequious. I also confuse Osama Bin Laden with Usama Bin Laden the same way. Mr. Hanson has written a lot of books. The soul of battle : from ancient times to the present day, how three great liberators vanquished tyranny, Bonfire of the humanities : rescuing the classics in an impoverished age, Ripples of battle : how wars of the past still determine how we fight, how we live, and how we think, Between war and peace : lessons from Afghanistan to Iraq . Just to name a few from recent years. Also he has written a book named Mexifornia : a state of becoming. The review of this book tells us that before becoming a classics professor Victor Hanson and his brother grew grapes for the raisin trade on the family farm for many years. The book is supposed to contain all manner of sympathy for the migrant worker. But his underlying view is that mexicans are getting into California and they're not leaving and not assimilating, and not learning english. They are changing California. Apparently it has escaped his attention that many Mexicans were already Californians: living in and around all five Presidio's. Years, generations before people like him and his high white friends [alto palo] came into the territory.

It was with his last couple books I began to doubt. His book on the Peloponnesian war took an ossified and rigid look at that episode in history, keeping one eye on the present much like his previous book Between war and Peace. He is a man who believes in using the lessons of the past to chop the fire wood of the present. There are other ways of looking at Athens and Sparta. Despite its reputation as the revolutionary and experimental state, because of its regard for democracy, Athens was in many ways the more natural and organic state, its laws and customs through Pericles time had less to do with radicalism or revolution than ambition, enterprise and guarded civic respect among the demos. Sparta in contrast was state, set into being. Unapologetically subsuming the individual to the needs of the state and evolved traditional for artificial mandated novel traditions. Deliberately and comprehensively reorganized into a military state in reaction to a set of defeats prior to 600bc. It was in that respect a reactionary New Order state, a utopian vision of oligarchs .

There are those today, like Mr. Hanson who admire who own uncontained admiration for Sparta for that vision - over the rule of the demos - with as much fondness as they can muster for anything.
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Thursday, 12 August, 2004
Ducks in a Row

I take practical tips where I find them: a string of pictures of a mother duck leading her ducklings over a sewer grate {1,2,3,4,5}...{1} ('Bad Parenting?' this what Mir posts when she's bored).

I have to take care of my nephews ages 7 and 3 this weekend, so I'm making a note, avoid sewer drains. Roberts graduate assistant, Sasha, today likened three year-olds to particles in a state of Brownian motion, a very poetic image there. That's about what this one is like A picture named Brownie.jpeg : brownian motion. The other one, Grant has become more philisophical, willing to accept the futility of trying to break the sound barrier on a bicycle, but not so much that he'll accept that Thunderbirds used to be a puppet show.

I mentioned to my sister that the Museum of Science in Boston was hosting the travelling The Lord of the Rings exhibit, after she returned from a visit to New England just last week. This is a exhibit organized by New Line and Peter Jackson's production/special effects company; WETA. After the last movie was in the can it was put together in New Zealand, then traveled to London. Now its in Boston, and my sister is going back up to Massachussets just to see it. It's their wedding annivarsary too, isn't that romantic. Doug (my brother-in-law) was heard to murmer something about spending the afternoon attending a geek fest, but on the other hand they have the balance of the weekend to themselves in Boston and without the boys. So If everyone behaves, there will be ice cream, for eveyone.
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Tuesday, 10 August, 2004
Pat the Terrorist's friend

When I saw stories start to appear on Liberian strongman Charles Taylor's Ties and connections to Al Queda / News / World / Asia / Liberia's Taylor gave aid to Qaeda, UN probe finds, also Qaeda Bought West African Gems Before 9/11 - Report (Reuters). I thought wasn't Mr. Taylor just recently Pat Robertson's good buddy. I remember the Goverments poor treatment of him was one of the many reasons Pat was telling author Joel Mowbray, last year, the U S State Department needed to be nuked Pat Robertson - Wikipedia (item 2 TOC). Pat had made his views on the upright Charles Taylor - Christian Crusador very clear CBS News | Pat Robertson Slams Bush On Liberia | July 11, 2003 16:22:47.

The quotes: "How dare the president of the United States say to the duly elected president of another country, "You've got to step down,"" Robertson said Monday on The 700 Club, broadcast from his Christian Broadcasting Network. and "So we're undermining a Christian, Baptist president to bring in Muslim rebels to take over the country," he [also] said in the broadcast. establish his nuanced view thoroughly. Except maybe he neglected to clarify the part about the gold mine he and Chuck (and Osama) own together Pat Robertson's Gold (
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Saturday, 7 August, 2004

Washington D C is not under siege, it just appears to be. Or maybe it is. It's hard to tell, and its been a week now. I have all this stories from varying press outlets across all of last week and I can't make out whether I'm looking at one evolving story or several. Last Sunday Tom Ridge went in front of the cameras (News cameras - which in DC lay about like pigeons in most cities) and raised the combined integrated non bleaching threat level to orange for five specific area's in Washington, New jersey, and New York City. This was based on new evidence that Al Qaeda was gathering target data on these sites, that was discussed by a combined intelligence panel (the new improved model). Initially they were going to go public with this at a press conference on Monday, but after discussing this with the president they went with it on Sunday. I have no problem with that, you have to figure if Al Qaeda operatives are collecting floor plans, pictures, and security arrangements on a building - they want to blow it up at some point. When they get around to it.

Monday starts with barricades street shutdowns, random searches, and antiterror swat teams with machine guns in the streets buildings, subways. By Monday too the story contains three distinct elements:

  • the Intelligence itself and U S Governments response,
  • a reaction leaning towards doubt and skepticism AlterNet: All Orange, All the Time
  • In DC this grew as people noted the secret service taking the opportunity to shut down streets and pile on more concrete barriers that they had been agitating to do for a while. If it weren't for the museums down on the mall they would go ahead and turn the entire federal core of Washington into 'green zone' behind barricades and concertina wire, safe and off limits to the public.
  • Also it emerged of just how old most of this data was. Old Data, New credibilty Issues for administration
The process by which public came to know data was old were wholesale leaks by the Intelligence community and the administration in a dual for credibility. The Intelligence community who thought wrong policy choices were made, on data which while new to U.S. analysts, was still target casings that predated the attacks of 11 Sept. 2001. Then administration officials leaking further data hinting that this was still a developing situation New threat of terror not hyped, Ridge maintains (I'm especially fond of this link as the story was written by my niece's soccer coach). Soon in-depth background briefs were rolling through the press Pakistan ambush led to wide terror sweep Turned up suspects and key intelligence

A point everyone seemed aware of (on all sides) was that candidate Kerry got little post convention coverage or bounce in the polls Not Much Bounce for Kerry After Convention. This story probably did play a role, by occupying the headlines. As much as any one was willing to say was that the reaction looked over-eager and amatuerish particularly to those outside the country. I thought the best observation of the week went not to any professional or official, but the very last caller of the Diane Rehm show Wednesday Code Orange who stated what was obvious but which was not really being said, by kicking off with an alert and massive reaction all you can hope do is prevent a specific attack - which they had no evidence for, then you have neither disrupted the group that may be planning such attack or prevented a subsequent attack unless you stay. Now they must keep it up at least until the election. With each rush hour, certainly by labor day, this alert will have grown stale, and it all will have to be repeated if new information turns up. I felt that way even before I heard the informationa was years old.

Addendum: The part of all this that still has legs as we move into the new week is that the initial figure in Lahore was arrested nearly a month ago and was aiding Pakistan officials to determine who his contacts were. In the rush to shore up the intelligence behind this alert, people in Pakistan gave his name to reporters, people in Washington confirmed it Pakistan Source Under Cover When U.S. Confirmed Name, which may not have been part of the plan. The British seemed to have to arrest a number of people sooner than they were prepared to and apparently did not get some. The wheels cmae off what was supposed to be a showcase operation of the war on terror Al Qaeda mole row reveals disarray. Now a round of finger-pointing is beginning among the principles Not So Fast, Senor Schumer! - Did a Pakistani blow our double-agent's cover? By Mickey Kaus. Its like watching Bucky Dent play first base, but less funny.
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Thursday, 5 August, 2004
Atlas shrugs, ALA shelves

I saw in the Federal Notes page of today's Washington Post that the Department of Justice has given up that recall of the guideline pamphlets on asset forfeiture from federal depository libraries Justice Dept. Rescinds Order to Pull Publications ( By Christopher Lee. A victory for the people. Celebrate in your myriad accustomed manners
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Wednesday, 4 August, 2004
Urban Verbs

(real) men are from Mars (U S), girly-men are from Venus (E U).
There was a post on Michelle Malkins' web log last week titled NO GIRLIE MEN ALLOWED. An Arnold reference, not even quoting himself, but Saturday Night Live satire of himself. Over the week-end while catching up with Arts and Letters Daily I came across the article in Foreign Policy the Metrosexual Superpower which was what set Mark Steyn off, which was the paticular thing MM was applauding. Rather than read Steyn, I went looking for the possible source of the Robert Kagan reference Kanna made. Conservative noses' are out of joint by the style of the urbane sophisticates of the old europe (a book by Michael Flocker seems to lurk at the center of all this). This led me to a Kagan article in Foreign affairs from earlier this year America's Crisis of Legitimacy (Foreign Affairs; Mar/Apr2004, Vol. 83 Issue 2, p65, 23p) which if not the right one would do.

Mostly this is just a (re)-affirmation of his significant piece (power and weakness : Policy Rev no. 114) from 2 years ago. He tries to claim American foreign policy has always been unilateral, even when it wasn't. He calls this the 'bipolar predicament'. A lazy weak europe tolerated even welcomed the gathered Soviet shadow because of their equal fear of the specter of U S hard hegonomy and/or Frances soft hegonomy. They and their economies have thrived in this cloisterd largely neutral existence, a complex weave of transnational agreements and organizations

If the United States is suffering a crisis of legitimacy, then, it is in large part because Europe wants to regain some measure of control over Washington's behavior. This is not to argue that the Europeans' demand that the United States seek international legitimization is simply self-serving. Because of their own history, and because they now operate within an international organization, the European Union, that requires multilateral agreement on all matters, Europeans' respect for the legitimacy derived from multilateral negotiation and international legal institutions is often sincere. But ideals and self-interest frequently coincide, and Europe's assaults on the legitimacy of U.S. dominance may also become an effective way of constraining and controlling the superpower. Legitimacy, the senior British diplomat Robert Cooper has written, "is as much a source of power as force."Undoubtedly, there are many in Europe who hope this is true.
Kagan wanly supports the formula Legitimacy=Multilateralist though he feels for the EU it is a description of legal status, where for Americans it is merely general practical policy : ...'Multilateral if possible, unilateral if necessary' was the catechism of the Clinton administration... he quotes approvingly. Followed by ...legitimacy is a genuinely elusive and malleable concept .

As he wraps up in the last section We see him try to come to terms with how he feels: tempted to ...dismiss the debate over legitimacy as a ruse and a fraud.... While acknowledging: The alternative course would be difficult for the United States to sustain... . Kagan arrives at position that the U S cannot avoid seeking legitimacy on the worlds terms, whatever they might be and he hates that. Still, he reasons .

The United States, in short, must pursue legitimacy in the manner truest to its nature: by promoting the principles of liberal democracy not only as a means to greater security but as an end in itself. Success would bring it a measure of authority in the liberal, democratic world, including among Europeans, who cannot forever ignore their own vision of a more humane world, even if these days they are more preoccupied with strengthening the international legal order
Possibly the vision of a more humane world the Europeans possess contains within it a glimpse of the less humane one that lies behind the door of un-apologetic power. Neoconservative Unilateralism in the raw is not sustainable and not really part of the U S foreign policy tradition Wilsonian or otherwise. Neoconservatives demonstrate a certain unwillingness comprehending multiple forms of power seeming to value only primal physical force. One often finds them singing of men and arms. More subtle forms leave them feeling cheated somehow as though constrained to running a race holding weights. Perhaps they are placing too much emphasis on an absolute metaphoric dichotomy of male and female ways of being and supremacy of a male power nature, they can claim by the sympathetic magic of speaking its name, and speaking yannically of their enemies.

[Noted that the Foreign Affairs article of Kagans is only the abstract I have an URL to the EBSCO host full text of that article America's Crisis of Legitimacy.
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Tuesday, 3 August, 2004
Conet Project

Read this in the Washington Post today Conet Project. Hard to miss, it was the lead article in the Style section. I was going write something about it, but I was checking a web log The Ghost of Gordon Sumner that turned up in my referers and this person posts on this. So via GGS the conet project. Strange thing is, when I read the article I realized I was already aware of this, but couldn't recall from where. I don't even have that Wilco album. Besides, to me Yankee Hotel Foxtrot are all submarines.
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Roberts English, or the reason why

Savage amusement (a phrase my father uses). I've been keeping an eye on the unfolding Bobby Fischer melodrama. I hope somebody is trying to lock up TV movie rights to this. Fischer has been in a holding cell at the Narita airport for three weeks. He is attempting to fight extradition to the U S. There was a article in the Washington Post on this Friday Chess Champ Fischer Maneuvers to Avoid Extradition (The Washington Post), and one in the SF Chronicle today As Bobby Fischer fights deportation to U.S., the chess legend's politics threaten to limit options. The latter had a throwaway line that the champ was maintaining a website in Japan. They didn't give a link but seconds later (through the miracle that is google) I had it: Bobby Fischer homepage. It contains a lively personal account of his arrest, and scans of his passport, and the letter from the Japanese authorities announcing his detainment, and many other rants going back years. All of it written in a barely lucid often third person howl. I immediately share this with Robert. Whose band was named, the Bobby Fischer Faction, as he notes in comments left to my previous post. We both agree Fischer needs to be under the care of professionals in a quiet place, by order of a concerned judge.

Robert, an english major as an undergraduate, is undone by the low state of the writing. I had lent him a book last week, actually my sister's book, Horowitz, I. A. (Israel Albert), 1907-1973. The complete book of chess / I.A. Horowitz, P.L. Rothenberg. London : Collier-MacMillan, 1969, c1963. "First Collier Books edition 1969." "Originally published as The personality of chess." [ GV1445 .H67 1969 . This is a well written, entertaining book. Robert is struck by the fact that Horowitz was firstmost a chess player, and then an incidental author, an accidental professional writer. Back in the day, clearly, people could write. Not like now. What happened? he asked. It was a rhetorical question. He seemed somewhat nonplussed when I tried to answer it.

Some possible reasons I offered: college educated of previous generations were a much smaller group, they were formed and drawn from a more literary formally trained elite. Advent of photographs, movies, and TV have made us a more visually reacting culture. As literate, but in a very different way. Average member of the tenitively literate middle class is probably no more syntaxically endowed then as now. As an inspection of letters, journals, small town newspapers from nineteeth early twentieth century might demonstrate. Simply a matter of less writing making the the divide between published and not. In today's Information culture far more writing in general is published and used. Little of it demonstrating literacy. Web logs surely prove this.

Then I remembered a Sound Print Radio documentary I heard several months ago What's New at School? that recalled a long repressed memory of my unfortunate childhood. The Sound Print piece dealt with educational fads and their prime example was not just the "new math" (been there), but crucially Roberts English. It all came flooding back in a shudder, like a close damp sickness. Roberts English the dreaded blue books of my youth, Incomprehensible and consuming useless and inescapable with their pointless multitude of step by step excercises through all of middle school. Replacing actual grammar instruction and composition in the process. What the hell was that all about! The beast in question: Roberts, Paul. English syntax : a programed introduction to Transformational grammar / Paul Roberts. New York : Harcourt, Brace & World, c1964. [ PE1361 - .R58 ]. Looking this up I struck on the phrase Transformational Grammar. I had a vague idea what this was (well, mostly I have vague ideas), and resort to Wiki. Transformational Grammar as I confirm is a Chomsky thing. It seems to have spent its existence as an idea in a state of flux. A high state of flux. Flux with ... deep structure.

There was a philosopher, I think, who felt that we make the very fabric of reality by the organizing warp and weft of our articulated thought, our concepts and catagories. What I have is more like a busted up lawn chair repaired with duct tape.
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2004 Paul Bushmiller.
Last update: 9/06/04; 02:19:48.