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RAND!

[ 22 ] June 27, 2015 |

7818077_f496The latest in my Kentucky-in-the-APAC series takes a look at RAND!

Paul’s association with offshore balancing stems, in large part, from his father’s embrace of the concept. Ron Paul ran for President in 2008 on a non-interventionist platform, distinguishing himself from the rest of the GOP field. The elder Paul has made a career of arguing the quasi-isolationist (to borrow the term of his critics) position on foreign affairs.

But what does offshore balancing mean for the Asia-Pacific? We can imagine that a Paul presidency would resist the temptation and risk of commitment to Japan or any of the South China Sea claimants with respect to potential conflict with China. If offshore balancing can’t avoid war over a few rocks in the East China Sea, or a few piles of sand in the South China Sea, then it’s not worth very much as a strategic perspective.

Corporations, Not Activists

[ 109 ] June 25, 2015 |
Third Reich box cover.jpg

“Third Reich box cover”. Via Wikipedia.

This is an example of reacting to a controversy without really understanding what the controversy is about:

Today, Apple decided to start yanking games that use the Confederate flag in any way (viaTouchArcade). For example, you can now no longer buy the strategy iOS games Civil War: 1862, Civil War: 1863, Civil War: 1864, and Civil War: Gettysburg, which, as you might guess, use the Confederate flag because they’re video games about the Civil War.

With any luck, this will work itself out in a couple of days, and the games will be restored. Right wingers are going apeshit, of course, but as far as I know there are no anti-flag activists of any standing who have decried the use of the Confederate flag in Civil War video games.  Apple’s action stems from a misunderstanding of the arguments of activists, accompanied by a apparently complete disinterest in what they’re actually calling for. And to go out on a bit of a limb, this is a good example of why technology companies, and the corporate world more generally, should have an interest in supporting some degree of liberal arts education; it shouldn’t be difficult to sort through the differences between flying the Confederate flag from the South Carolina statehouse, and depicting it in a video game about the Battle of Gettysburg.

Blogging is About Trust

[ 296 ] June 25, 2015 |

6amfI, for one, will never trust Lemieux again.

The Supreme Court cemented President Barack Obama’s signature achievement on Thursday by affirming that the Affordable Care Act intended to help all Americans who need help paying for their insurance.
In their 6-3 majority in King v. Burwell, the justices ruled that Americans are eligible for subsidies regardless of whether their state set up its own exchange. The result preserves premium assistance for 6.4 million customers in the 34 states that rely on the federal marketplace. On a practical level, it also preserves the mandate, at the center of the law and of its controversy, that every American buy health insurance.

[SL] …hey, my prediction could have been worse:

More soon, of course. I’m not shocked that Roberts voted for the government, but I am pretty shocked by how unambiguous the win was.

Explains World War II…

[ 76 ] June 24, 2015 |

Hanging on in quiet desperation is, quite literally, the English way:

The education minister, Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, quickly rejected the students’ pleas, saying: “In truth, I was quite surprised by the petition. Because ‘to cope with’ is part of the things one learns — and I am not fluent.”

But the students have their defenders. “This word ‘to cope’ is unusually hard to translate into French,” wrote Carol Just, a teacher of English in France, on the change.org website, “and the English notion is difficult to understand even for experienced adult learners because there is no real equivalent in the French language and in the French mind.”

The Cloudy Kristol Ball

[ 121 ] June 24, 2015 |

133439_1211663_300x283It’s fun to watch Bill Kristol badly misread conservative opinion on the Confederate flag:


This puts him well behind Jeb Bush, Rand Paul, Bob Corker, Mitt Romney, Jennifer Rubin, Mitch McConnell, and Rick fucking Perry. Who could have guessed that the man who helped bring Sarah Palin to national prominence could make such an egregiously awful judgment call?

Mitch: Jeff Davis Out of the Kentucky State Capitol

[ 18 ] June 24, 2015 |
Muhammad Ali NYWTS.jpg

“Muhammad Ali NYWTS” by Ira Rosenberg – Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Now we’re cooking with gas:

But at a press conference on Tuesday, in the midst of a national debate over the propriety of Confederate images, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell identified one place where Davis shouldn’t be: the Capitol building in his home state of Kentucky. A statue of Davis stands alongside former President Abraham Lincoln—his Civil War adversary—and other Kentucky-born leaders.

After last week’s deadly shooting at a historically black church in Charleston, South Carolina, images emerged of the suspected gunman’s affinity for the Confederate flag, spurring debate over whether the Confederate symbol should be represented on state property. According to reporters at the news conference, McConnell said that a “more appropriate” location for the Davis statue would be a state museum. This week, McConnell expressed support for South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to remove the Confederate flag from the statehouse grounds in Columbia.

This isn’t the first time that Davis’s place of honor in the Kentucky Capitol has been questioned. Earlier Tuesday, a Kentucky gubernatorial candidate called for its removal, and last year, a former state treasurer started an online petition to replace Davis’s statue with a memorial to boxer Muhammed Ali, who was born in Louisville.

That Ali was originally the namesake of Cassius Marcellus Clay makes him an even more appropriate replacement for Davis. Ali apparently doesn’t want a statue, but there’s probably room for both a two-dimensional representation of the Greatest, an a statue of the abolitionist leader Clay

More Mitch!

[ 0 ] June 24, 2015 |

U.S. Senator McConnell talks to reporters after meeting Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Suu Kyi in YangonThe latest in my series at the Diplomat on Kentucky and the APAC takes a look at Mitch:

Kentucky is blessed (or cursed) with a very interesting pair of Senators. Rand Paul, with his outspoken foreign policy views and willingness to filibuster, grabs many of the headlines. His senior colleague, however, has much more influence over the course of U.S. foreign policy. Mitch McConnell has served as Kentucky’s Senator since 1985. He has acted as the Senate Majority Leader since January, moving up from the Minority Leader position in the wake of the GOP’s victories in the 2014 midterms. No one has ever accused Mitch McConnell of having “flash,” but he’s widely regarded as one of the most powerful men in Washington.

A Trip Down Heritage Lane…

[ 142 ] June 22, 2015 |

12052014-tnr-thumb-300xauto-81459
I’m old enough to remember when Jason Zengerle of Even-the-Liberal-New-Republic thought the Confederate flag was all about the heritage:

I actually have a fair amount of sympathy for some Southerners who love the Confederate flag. I even once wrote a piece about them. For these people, the flag really is a representation of their heritage; perhaps more importantly, it may be the only thing in their lives that actually transcends their daily existence. Put it this way: if you’re a guy whiling away your days in Scotland Neck, North Carolina, the fact that your great-great-grandfather fought at Gettysburg–the only thing connected to your life that you ever actually read about in a history book–is a real source of pride. Therefore, it’s perfectly understandable that you’d express that pride by flying a Confederate flag, or putting a sticker of it on your car. And there’s nothing more unfair than being branded a racist for doing so.

Truly a loss to civilization that the archives of the Plank are so difficult to dig up these days…

Horses!

[ 11 ] June 22, 2015 |

American PharoahThe third in my series discussing the relationship between Kentucky and the Asia Pacific is up:

Where does East Asia stand in the globalization of horse racing?  Few Americans know much about East Asian racing, except for the very few Kentuckians who study the subject intensely.  Racing in Japan, South Korea, and especially Hong Kong is taking an ever-larger role in a sport traditionally associated with Kentucky and the Middle East.

Salt Lake

[ 39 ] June 19, 2015 |
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Salt Lake City from Ensign Peak. Photo by author.

The Comparative Government AP Reading moved to Salt Lake City this year, after five years in Kansas City. KC was lovely, but five years was enough, especially as our group was stuck in the Hotel of Death every year. It felt like folks could go either way on Salt Lake; it was a different place, but doesn’t exactly have a reputation for catering to the industrial-age drinkers of AP.

I wasn’t that worried, because I knew that the city had changed a lot during the last decade and a half. “Don’t you have to be part of a club to buy a drink?” was something that I heard a lot, but could safely dismiss. What I didn’t anticipate, however, was how bohemian (for lack of better terminology) downtown Salt Lake had become. There were plenty of bars, including good beer bars, restaurants, shops, attractions, and whatever else you might need. Temple Square is cool to visit, any reservations about LDS notwithstanding, and good hiking is available in easy walking distance. The crowd for the USA-Sweden match was, in a word, the most “Portland” group that I think I ever hung out with. Salt Lake even has the angry, assertive homeless community that’s characteristic of every city on the West Coast, but apparently is surprising to people east of the Rockies.

Two caveats; first, I suspect that leaving the 12 square blocks at the heart of the city would offer a much different picture of the area. Second, Utah state laws mandate that no liquor pour amount to more than 1.5 ounces, which effectively hamstrings the cocktail culture. I didn’t have a decent cocktail at any point during our ten day stay, unless I made it myself.

The Astro Bustout

[ 66 ] June 17, 2015 |
Base Wars

“Base Wars cover”. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Seems like we need a thread for this:

On Tuesday, The New York Times reported that the FBI and Justice Department officials have evidence that Cardinals officials — who were not identified — allegedly tapped into the Astros’ database and had access to statistics, scouting reports and internal discussions about players, trades and other proprietary information.

Yahoo! Sports reported that one source familiar with the investigation said the FBI connected the breach to a house in Jupiter, Florida, the city in which the Cardinals conduct spring training. The house was used by a number of Cardinals employees, according to the report, so pinpointing the culprit of the breach is complicated.

According to the Times, the FBI believes that Cardinals officials gained access to the Astros’ database by using a list of passwords associated with Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow dating to his tenure with the Cardinals from 2003 until he left for Houston after the 2011 season.

It’s hard for me to see how MLB avoids significantly sanctioning the Cardinals over this. It’s unlikely that the stolen data will provide the Cards with a huge advantage, or that it will prove a major detriment to the Astros, but it’s clearly beyond the bounds of what teams should be doing to seek competitive advantage.  It’s a much bigger deal, I think, than a few deflated footballs.  See also 538.

Pour Out a Forty of Human Blood

[ 29 ] June 11, 2015 |
Dracula 1958 c.jpg

“Dracula 1958 c” by Screenshot from “Internet Archive” of the movie Dracula (1958) – http://www.archive.org/details/HorrorOfDracula-Trailer. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Christopher Lee, RIP. I’m curious what percentage of his total career film earnings came since 2000. Well deserving of the fine, long career he enjoyed.

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