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War Zone!

[ 44 ] February 23, 2015 |

In response to charges that my claims to having served honorably during the Iraq War are “incorrect” or “made up,” I would like to point out that there is copious documentary evidence to indicate that I worked in a variety of different capacities, during the Iraq War, within the territorial confines of one of the major combatants.  There may even have been a time or two when I was mildly concerned about my safety.

Should be good enough for Dylan Byers.


Back to ‘Nam

[ 19 ] February 23, 2015 |

More thoughts on the Vietnam War…

Why do we continue to revisit the Vietnam War, or any historical event?  Because we hope that the disastrous experience will hold lessons for future strategic decisions.  The best that might be argued about the Vietnam War is that it established, for U.S. allies, that the United States would expend tremendous amounts of blood and treasure for areas that Washington didn’t really care about. This, consequently, would indicate U.S. toughness, and preempt aggression in areas the U.S. did care about.


Mercy Mercy Jerome Kersey

[ 5 ] February 19, 2015 |

This is tragic:

 Jerome Kersey, a fan favorite during his decade-plus career with thePortland Trail Blazers and a veteran of 17 NBA seasons, died Wednesday. He was 52.

The Trail Blazers confirmed that Kersey had died but didn’t provide details. A team ambassador, Kersey appeared Tuesday with fellow former Blazers Terry Porter and Brian Grant at Madison High School in Portland in celebration of African American History Month.

“Today we lost an incredible person and one of the most beloved players to ever wear a Trail Blazers uniform,” Blazers owner Paul Allen said in a statement. “My thoughts and condolences are with the Kersey family. He will be missed by all of us. It’s a terrible loss.”

Like most of the rest of the players from his era, Jerome Kersey was an important figure in the Portland sports and social scene. By all accounts he was an incredibly nice guy, generous with time and money. It’s particularly tragic given that we’ve now lost 2/5ths of the great 1990-1992 team, way, way too young.

Think Local!

[ 14 ] February 18, 2015 |

Why won’t Obama just let local cops do their job, especially when they seem to understand their job as the enforcement of a nasty system of racial inequality?

The Justice Department is preparing to bring a lawsuit against the Ferguson, Missouri, police department over a pattern of racially discriminatory tactics used by officers, if the police department does not agree to make changes on its own, sources tell CNN.

Attorney General Eric Holder said this week he expects to announce the results of the department’s investigation of the shooting death of Michael Brown and a broader probe of the Ferguson Police Department before he leaves office in the coming weeks.

So This is How Far We’ve Fallen

[ 55 ] February 18, 2015 |

Classes at the University of Kentucky have now been cancelled four out of five days this week.

It’s the first time in over a decade that classes have been cancelled two days in a row. Frankly, there’s no way that President Mitt Romney would have allowed this on his watch.

Tuesday Linkage

[ 39 ] February 17, 2015 |

Things for the reading of:

Worst. Graph. Ever

[ 74 ] February 16, 2015 |

This is amazing:

The point is to try to indicate that Russian military spending has increased from baseline, while EU spending has decreased. The visual effect (and a graph, of course, is intended to display data in an effective, informative manner) is to indicate that Russia is spending much, much more than the Europeans. This is accomplished through the unconventional means of putting the number “70” much higher on the graph than the number “265,” which is made even more confusing by the fact that the Y axis (which is supposed to reflect % change) is right next to the absolute number labels…

Drone Power!

[ 2 ] February 15, 2015 |

I have some thoughts on teh dronez:

What countries have made the most of the drone age?  Some of the answers are unsurprising; nations with huge investment capacity and ongoing military conflicts have obvious advantages in the ability to develop drones, and to develop ways of using them for strategic purpose.  This article looks at the five nations that have most effectively taken advantage of the Golden Age of the Drone, with more of an emphasis on how these countries have managed innovation, organization, and deployment than on the characteristics of specific weapons.


All a Matter of Emphasis…

[ 10 ] February 13, 2015 |

Many references to state politics include details that are relevant to the politics of that state:

Sure… Chris Dudley played twice as many games as a Trail Blazer than as a Knick, and played much better for the Trail Blazers than for the Knicks, and hey, Portland is in Oregon, but whatever…

When People Stop Being Polite…

[ 57 ] February 12, 2015 |

Earlier this week, Francis Sempa made a go at rehabilitating the reputation of James Burnham.  I had some objections:

What’s odd about Sempa’s column is that very few try to resurrect the reputation of Vietnam hawks, the people who argued that the only problems with the war in Indochina are that the United States didn’t squander enough blood and treasure and didn’t slaughter enough Asians. America’s historical memory has struggled to flush such voices from its consciousness, and has largely succeeded. It also bears note that the National Review itselfrarely enjoys being reminded of the sort of sentiments it published during the 1950s and 1960s.

… via Hogan, Orwell on Burnham. And this is particularly on the nose:

Power worship blurs political judgement because it leads, almost unavoidably, to the belief that present trends will continue. Whoever is
winning at the moment will always seem to be invincible. If the Japanese have conquered south Asia, then they will keep south Asia for ever, if
the Germans have captured Tobruk, they will infallibly capture Cairo; if the Russians are in Berlin, it will not be long before they are in
London: and so on. This habit of mind leads also to the belief that things will happen more quickly, completely, and catastrophically than
they ever do in practice. The rise and fall of empires, the disappearance of cultures and religions, are expected to happen with earthquake
suddenness, and processes which have barely started are talked about as though they were already at an end. Burnham’s writings are full of
apocalyptic visions. Nations, governments, classes and social systems are constantly described as expanding, contracting, decaying, dissolving,
toppling, crashing, crumbling, crystallising, and, in general, behaving in an unstable and melodramatic way. The slowness of historical change,
the fact that any epoch always contains a great deal of the last epoch, is never sufficiently allowed for. Such a manner of thinking is bound to
lead to mistaken prophecies, because, even when it gauges the direction of events rightly, it will miscalculate their tempo. Within the space of
five years Burnham foretold the domination of Russia by Germany and of Germany by Russia. In each case he was obeying the same instinct: the
instinct to bow down before the conqueror of the moment, to accept the existing trend as irreversible. With this in mind one can criticise his
theory in a broader way.

Foreign Entanglements: The Guns of Kiev

[ 2 ] February 10, 2015 |

On the latest episode of Foreign Entanglements, Sean Kay and I talk about arming Ukraine:

“I mean, it could be that God stopped the bullets, or He changed Coke to Pepsi, He found my fucking car keys”

[ 54 ] February 9, 2015 |

Four years ago I lost my car keys. At the time we were in the middle of a move from Cincinnati to Lexington, and for a while I simply assumed that they would turn up in some box or another. As the years went by, and we underwent another move, that hope faded. Late last year, I finally threw away two bike locks that I had kept around in the forlorn hope that the keys would turn up. One of the keys on the ring was a departmental submaster, which set off a minor crisis at work that eventually made it all the way to the Dean (I still have the panicked e-mails from the Dean, insisting that we needed to change every lock on the floor twice, one temporary, one permanent, and I remember my Director carefully talking the Dean down). The ring also had my old lanyard from the year I spent as an RA in the University of Oregon dorm system.

And then I get a call last Tuesday from someone, telling me that my keys had been turned in at a Cincinnati area Kroger, and that they had identified me through the Kroger card on the chain. I was driving at the time, and I insisted that they had to be wrong; the keys were literally in the car. But then I realized that they had found the *old* set. It’s fair to say that my surprise was noticeable to the person on the phone. After confirming my identity, she took my new address, and they express mailed the keys to me. Some thoughts, in no particular order:

  • Where could the keys have been that they spent four years in a Kroger?
  • Who knew there was an upside to giving your actual phone number on your Kroger card?
  • Does this mean that I should never throw anything away again?
  • Isn’t that some damn fine customer service?
  • Does this count as one of my miracles?
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