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Showing posts from July 3, 2005

more froth for your buck

To sum it up: Tony Blair took a non-threat to the U.K., Saddam Hussein, implanted a continuing British presence in the Middle East, and for the return on the British investment got 50 some deaths, 700 some casualties, and the disruption of all of London. Steven Coll, whose Ghost Wars is the best book I’ve read about the Reagan era financed adventure in creating the jihadi movement in Afghanistan, has a good article in the WP . Here are two grafs: “Yet al Qaeda's chief ideologues -- bin Laden, his lieutenant Ayman Zawahiri and, more recently, the Internet-fluent Abu Musab Zarqawi -- have been able to communicate freely to their followers, even while in hiding. In the past 18 months, they have persuaded dozens of like-minded young men, operating independently of the core al Qaeda leadership, to assemble and deliver suicide or conventional bombs in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Spain, Egypt and now apparently London. As in the Madrid bombings, these looser adherents sometimes copy al Qa

the csa and terror

The rituals begin. The comments sections are flooded with “our prayers and thoughts are with you.” The leaders condemn the attack. They are against terrorist attacks. The Pope, too, is against terrorist attacks. Not a single leader thinks that London commuters should be blown to bits by a network winding back to a very alive and not very dead and certain not captured Osama Bin Laden. These are the grooves we are stuck in. LI has an idea that the model for the half-security state – the state that leaves obvious gaps in its defenses while it goes about putting people’s library book checkout records under the magnifying glass – is Russia. Yeltsin, with Western encouragement, made himself briefly popular by playing the terrorist card and invading Chechnya. Putin has infinitely refined on the Yeltsin prototype. That the Bush culture is at once as tough as testosterone and as supine as a newly born lamb when it comes to demanding the taking down of the paramilitary networks from their suppos

science as culture

There is nothing some scientists hate more than to have their activities scrutinized by a certain kind of sociologist. Somebody, for instance, like Bruno Latour, who they suspect is saying, in obscure language, that science is a dream, a highly wrought bubble composed of countless work-arounds and displayed before the credulous, who haven’t the training to see through the trick, as a seamless miracle. That is not, really, what Latour is saying, although he does, at critical points, suspend the question of the truth of what a particular scientist or a collection of scientists is maintaining in order to aim at what the scientists are doing. For the scientists, their motivations come from the nature of things; for Latour, their motivations come from the nature of scientists. To do this kind of work, one must be extremely clever. But often, one isn’t. Which brings me to the Spring 2004 issue of Science as Culture magazine. Jon Turney has written just the kind of article that would seem to

santayana, the fourth

It is Santayana’s luck that he is not tarred, as Heidegger is, with sympathy for fascism, even though Santayana abundantly exhibited same. But the other side of that luck is that Santayana has sunk into relative and undeserved neglect.Undeserved on a number of levels. Simply on the level of sheer delight, Santayana ranks high as a writer. Here, for instance, is his criticism of Bertrand Russell’s politics: Russell's "mind and conscience" are "those of a rebel or reformer. He feels no loyalty to dominant things but enthusiasm for possible ideal contrary things. . . . Nothing can be established in this world merely because it is ideally possible: it must flow from what precedes, it must be derivable from physical forces actually afoot." We take that phrase from the review of Santayana’s letters in the Winter 2005 Sewanee Review, which – should you bump into an issue – you should read. Or, again, here is Santayana on myth and science – elucidating a point which, fr

the last post on this subject, I hope

LI finds the whole festuche of the upcoming Supreme Court hearings to be so much depressing filler. We expect the D.C. Dems to charge out of their trenches once again into withering fire, having, like the English officer corps on the Sommes in 1915, understood nothing and remembered everything. It is quite simple. Progressive politics on the national level are dead. D.C. is now the heart of big government conservatism. The party can’t adapt to this because it has concentrated its throw weight and vanity in D.C., producing the pompous puffer culture that is the snide voice which replies to Bush’s weekly radio speeches. So – one needs a strong states rights justice or two. That should be the biggest criteria for liberals – and please, no Roe! if Roe goes down on the national level, it will just be catching up with reality, since in large stretches of Snopes country, abortion went back to the coathanger era in the nineties. Advice that is futile, of course. The Dem consultants and media h