Monday, April 07, 2014

Two-minute rule

"How Much Is NSA Spying Costing In Lost Productivity?"  We can't quantify the effect so let's ignore the problem.

"Goin’ Down That Same Old Road…"  We can't quantify the effect so let's ignore the problem.

"Does this ever work?"  You know you are in trouble when your new group of leaders just got off the plane from returning from the scofflaw jurisdiction to which they recently fled to avoid justified prosecution.  It is also a little weird when they are all the worst of the group who were the subject of the protests which led to the coup.

"Higher Education" (David Kaiser):
 "The world today is changing very rapidly, and we are having trouble coping with it, it seems to me, precisely because of a lack of long-term historical sense.  As I mentioned last week, our foreign policy establishment is committed to a rather naive belief in the continuing, unstoppable spread of democracy.  A few sanctions, it seems, will get any dissenters--like Vladimir Putin--back on the straight and narrow.  But that is not so.  The period of the Cold War was parallel to the long peace that followed the Napoleonic wars, roughly from 1815 until the mid-1860s.  A series of wars in that decade created modern Italy and Germany, but, thanks largely to Bismarck's skillful diplomacy, things did not spin completely out of control until 1914.   Bismarck may be Putin's model as well:  he wanted to make Prussia supreme in most of Germany, just as Putin wants to restore some of Russia's position in the former Soviet Union, but even Bismarck did not want all German-speaking lands under his control.   The Middle East, meanwhile, has essentially abandoned western tutelage.  The future relationship of the West and the Far East is, I think, much more uncertain than many of us realize.

We need men and women at the head of our institutions who can think both historically and on behalf of our whole society.  We do not seem to be producing very many of them any more.

I shall take a moment now to touch on another current controversy: Israel's insistence, as part of the peace negotiations involving the Palestinians, that the Palestinians and other Arab states accept Israel as a specifically Jewish state.  This, to  me, is a sad commentary on the decline of classic western political values.  After the American and French Revolutions citizenship became increasingly divorced from religion and, in much of western Europe, from ethnicity as well.  The Enlightenment called for equal political rights for all.  The Balfour Declaration called for a "Jewish national home": in which Jews--and specifically the Jews of the Russian Empire, who enjoyed very few political rights--could enjoy those rights, although it also specifically promised to protect the rights of the Arab population.  Israel has never been a completely Jewish state, and indeed, its Arab minority is increasing.  No advanced nation has found a way to keep its birth rate high enough to do without immigration.  Yet Israel wants to give special status to its majority of Jewish citizens--and to treat the Arab citizens similarly to the way Jews were treated in Europe in earlier ages.  I do not think this was what the founders of Zionism had in mind, but they came from much earlier generations. "

"The Forgotten Method of Eating Matzah"  Guide for the perplexed.
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