Good article on the escape from an Afghani prison of four members of Al-Qaeda. Addicted to secrecy, the Bush administration has of course not been as forthcoming as a reasonable person might expect. This is what fascinated me, though:
At the time, several officials said, construction crews had been working to expand and reinforce the prison, a cavernous aircraft machine-shop built by the Soviet military during its occupation of Afghanistan and converted by the American military into its primary screening center for terror suspects captured overseas. The breakout took place only days before a series of tougher security measures, including surveillance cameras and brighter lighting, were to be put in place.
Why does it seem that so much of the infrastructure of the War on Terror is built on the ruins of the Soviet empire? Air bases in Central Asia, secret prisons in Eastern Europe, Soviet financed prisons in Iraq, Soviet trained torturers in countries around the world, and old Soviet bases in Afghanistan. There’s certainly no intentionality to it, and I don’t doubt that each decision to use an old Soviet facility can be justified on its own merits. Nevertheless, it is fascinating and disturbing that the United States seems so ready and able to pick up and dust off the rusty tools of Soviet imperialism.
Given the staggering success of the “Red State” bureau established in Lexington, Kentucky by the Central Committee of Lawyers, Guns and Money last April, it has been decided by unanimous vote to continue the project indefinitely.
In related news news I have been offered and have accepted a tenure track assistant professor position at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. I have been very happy with my time here thus far, and I’m looking forward to continuing my work here over the next several years, at least. In particular, I have found the faculty and students to be exceptionally supportive.
UPDATE: Thank you all very much. I just hope that I’m not held responsible for this.
Conservatives, as I recall, are the ones who believe that “human nature has no history.” It follows that we are at ease with the fact that the human female is visually attractive to the human male at, or shortly after, puberty, and for only a few brief years thereafter.
It is, in fact, a sad truth about human life that beyond our salad days, very few of us are interesting to look at in the buff. Added to that sadness is the very unfair truth that a woman’s salad days are shorter than a man’s — really, in this precise context, only from about 15 to 20.
There’s really nothing I can say that could add to this. I suppose that I am leading a vile and unnatural lifestyle, as I have found myself rather attracted to numerous women above the age of twenty. I wonder, is that more or less unnatural than being attracted to men? Is there some kind of support group I can attend?
I think that we are predominantly #3 (niche blogging) with some elements of #1 (meme du jour) and #2 (caterer) styles.
You can count me among the utterly unsympathetic.
The flags from Southern states disappeared from the chapel. The ceremonial baton dedicated to a Confederate general who helped found the Ku Klux Klan vanished. The very name of the University of the South was tweaked, becoming Sewanee: The University of the South, with decided emphasis on Sewanee.
It all seemed eminently sensible to university administrators looking to appeal beyond the privileged white children of the South, who have long been the university’s base, and become a more national, selective and racially diverse university.
But the changes have sparked a passionate debate among alumni, many of whom view them as a betrayal of their history.
Some traditionalists say they fear that the name of the university’s guest house, Rebel’s Rest, will be next to go and that a monument donated by the United Daughters of the Confederacy commemorating Edmund Kirby-Smith, a Confederate general who taught at the university for nearly 20 years, will be removed.
“I think they ought to leave it the way it is,” said Dr. David W. Aiken, an alumnus who is an orthopedic surgeon in Metairie, La. “I wouldn’t be for changing anything. I think they’re doing quite well. What is the purpose of making it a more national school? Do I want kids from California, New York coming there? Not really.”
If you ask me, the fewer monuments we have commemorating treason, the better.
Point of Order is again available on DVD. I highly recommend it, and it’s a fair bit more interesting than Good Night and Good Luck. Army lawyer Joseph Welch is the star, and although the film includes the “Have you at long last no decency” scene, my favorite line is Welch’s indirect mention of Roy Cohn’s sexuality:
WELCH: Did you think this came from a pixie? …
MCCARTHY: Will the counsel for my benefit define – I think he might be an expert on that – what a pixie is?
WELCH: Yes, I should say, Senator, that a pixie is a close relative of a fairy. Shall I proceed, sir? Have I enlightened you?
Welch later appeared as the judge in Anatomy of a Murder, which is one of my favorite Jimmy Stewart films.
But, if you don’t trust me, then at least listen to esteemed reviewer jtpaladin, at Amazon.com:
This film is nothing but an attempt by left-wing degenerates to smear a great Senator who had the guts to stand up to communist infiltration of our government. Senator McCarthy used legal means and protected the innocent by giving those questioned an opportunity to meet in Executive Session and anyone found innocent, left without further issue. Sadly, the same can’t be said of the treatment that Senator McCarthy received. This film was edited in such a way as to make the Senator look bad.
The rest of his 106 reviews are genuinely fascinating; he combines a hatred of various gadgets and “left wing” books and films with a deep affection for Sex and the City and the Village People. I confess that I found this deeply reassuring.
One of my few moments that I have truly enjoyed myself at a political science conference came during the late 1990s on a panel somewhere in Southern California. The topic of the panel was nuclear proliferation, and I seem to recall that I was giving some paper on the effect of Sino-American rapproachment on the Pakistani nuclear program. The chair of the panel took it upon himself to explain pre-emption to the audience (one young scholar gave a very bad paper trying to describe nuclear warfare as a game of Chicken) and got onto the topic of the use of nuclear weapons in Europe in the context of a NATO-Warsaw Pact general war. “In this scenario” he said, with a deep German accent, “we burn the Poles, the Hungarians, and the Germans; well, maybe not the Germans, and they burn the Belgians and the French, and hopefully we do not burn each other.” It occured to me at the time to think about how bizarre this truly was; we were thinking about using American nuclear weapons not just against Russian civilians, who, of course, could hardly be blamed for the behavior of their government, but also against Polish civilians whose only crime had been to be enslaved by the Russians. And the use of the word “burn” really brought the point home. Ethics and nuclear war don’t go well together.
This article reminded me of that panel. It seems that the Polish Defense Minister, irritated in some fashion by the Russians, has gone and decided to publish various Warsaw Pact plans for war against NATO. One plan in particular involved a Russian nuclear attack on Western Europe either in response to or in expectation of a Western nuclear attack on Poland. According to the article, this is supposed to embarass the Russians and cause a further rift in Russo-Polish relations.
I’ll confess that I don’t really see what the fuss is. Of course the Soviets contemplated war plans that would result in the destruction of their allies; so did we. Also, it’s hardly news that the Russians had somewhat less regard for and trust of their Eastern European allies than we did of out Western European friends. Nevertheless, it’s a mildly interesting bit of news, although really a lot less interesting than the revelation a few years ago that the central task of Polish forces in a general war would be the “liberation” of Denmark.
We can’t let the terrorists know that we’re incompetent. Letting that little secret out could lead to disaster.
F-16s flying against Su-30s? My heart beats faster…
Cope India 2002 focused on airlift operations. The 2004 joint exercise involved F-15s and a variety of Indian aircraft, including SU-30s. The surprising this about Cope India 2004 was that the Indians won; it has been remarked that they won because the USAF threw the game in order to provide a better case for the F-22. Indeed, the 2004 exercise was clearly cooked in favor of the Indians, who were able to fly with superior numbers and more tactical flexibility.
Now they’ve played again, and it looks as if the Indians have won again. The IAF is flying some pretty advanced aircraft, including the Su-30, which some argue is the most advanced aircraft in the world outside of the F-22. However, the Indians are also flying refurbished Mig-21s, which are probably somewhat more advanced than a F-4. You can continue to color me skeptical about the actual effectiveness of the IAF against the USAF. The most important thing to remember is that the USAF has an incentive to lose with both its F-16s and F-15s; it wants new aircraft, and it does not want to showcase its best tactics in an arena accessible to potential foes. Now, whether those considerations outweigh concerns about institutional pride and, frankly, fighter jock arrogance remains unclear.
Still, such exercises can only please the PLAAF, which has an undetermined but growing stable of Su-30 fighters, as well as many older models.
Dreadnought was the first modern battleship completed, but not the first designed. That honor went to a pair of American battleships, South Carolina and Michigan. Larger only than the Espana class dreadnoughts, Michigan minimally, if efficiently, fulfilled the requirements of a dreadnought battleship. Congress limited the size of Michigan to more or less the same as that of the Connecticut class pre-dreadnought battleships, about 16000 tons, or 2500 tons smaller than Dreadnought. Onto that small frame the architects managed to pack 8 12″ guns in four twin turrets. The most advanced element of the design was turret distribution. While most other navies played with wing turrents (gun turrets set off the center line, and thus incapable of firing a broadside in either direction), Michigan was built with superfiring turrets, where the second turret on each side of the ship was elevated above the first. This allowed all of the guns to fire in a broadside in either direction. This arrangement was maintained in the rest of the US battleship fleet, and eventually spread to the rest of the world’s navies.
Unfortunately, because of her small size Michigan lacked the machinery to make more than 18 knots. Dreadnought, on the other hand, could make 21 knots. The next class of American battleships (and all that followed them) could also make 21 knots, which had the effect of rendering South Carolina and Michigan obsolete shortly after their completion. Unable to keep up with the main US battle squadron, Michigan would best have been employed as reinforcement for a squadron of pre-dreadnoughts. In any case, Michigan never saw combat outside of the action off Vera Cruz in 1914, when Woodrow Wilson unleashed most of the firepower of the US Navy against a small Mexican city. Michigan was taken out of service shortly after World War I, and was scrapped as per the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty.
Michigan and South Carolina were also notable for being the first US battleships constructed with cage masts. Earlier US ships had been built with more conventional masts, although by 1910 most had been refitted with cage masts. Cage masts distinguished American ships from those of any other navy in the world. They were extremely fire resistant (shells simply passed through them), but tended to restrict angles of fire for anti-aircraft guns, although this was not an important consideration in 1908. Every battleship up until West Virginia (completed in 1922) carried cage masts. The experience of Michigan also, indirectly, helped lead to the end of the cage mast era. In 1918, gale force winds bent the forward mast of Michigan all the way down to the deck. US battleships modernized during the interwar period lost their cage masts, although four of the ships at Pearl Harbor (California, Tennessee, Maryland, and West Virginia) still had theirs on the day of the attack. Two ships (Maryland and Colorado) would retain their cage masts all the way until their disposal dates in 1959.
Urgh. Fortunately, I missed this.
The suit, scheduled for a hearing on Dec. 12 in Federal District Court in Los Angeles, says many of Calvary’s best students are at a disadvantage when they apply to the university because admissions officials have refused to certify several of the school’s courses on literature, history, social studies and science that use curriculums and textbooks with a Christian viewpoint.
The lawyer for the school, Robert Tyler, said reviewing and approving the course content was an intrusion into private education that amounted to government censorship. “They are trying to secularize private Christian schools,” Mr. Tyler said. “They have taken God out of public schools. Now they want to do it at Christian schools.”
A lawyer for the Association of Christian Schools International, Wendell Bird, said the Calvary concerns surfaced two years ago when the admissions board scrutinized more closely courses that emphasized Christianity. In the last year, the board has rejected courses like Christianity’s Influence in American History, Special Provenance: Christianity and the American Republic, Christianity and Morality in American Literature and a biology course using textbooks from the Bob Jones University Press and A Beka Book, conservative Christian publishers.
The suggestion that refusing to recognize as legitimate quasi-courses built around Christianity constitutes unfair discrimination is rather new to me. As far as I’m concerned, Christians should feel free to educate their children in any manner they see fit, and if their courses fail to measure up to collegiate standards, then too bad. This is what happens when you decide to wage war on secular knowledge and general education standards. The price of demanding absolute ideological conformity from your kids is idiot children.
I’m certainly not looking forward to that first student who asks why I haven’t included any texts on the special place of the American Republic in God’s plan in my American Foreign Policy class. Since I predominantly teach graduate and professional students, hopefully it will be quite a while.
Via Jaundice James.