Monthly Archives: September 2010

September 17, 2010, 10:30 am

All is forgiven.

Oprah picks Franzen for her Book Club. Again, despite the last time.

September 16, 2010, 8:55 am

McConnell: let's play a round of "find the racism"

Lots of discussion of these images of South Carolina Senate President Glenn McConnell dressed as a Confederate Navy officer posing with black people dressed “in antebellum attire.” Apparently the black man and woman are “members of a Gullah-Geechee cultural group, which travels around bringing to life the Lowcountry African-American experience during the mid-1800s, including their dress, music and singing.” They were paid for their appearance.

It’s a weird picture. Since there are no actual historians here, and certainly none with an interest in the Civil War or the politics of memory, I’ll muse as follows:

(i) watching members of a Gullah preservation group would probably be pretty interesting;
(ii) it wouldn’t make the gathering less creepy if they were absent;
(iii) this makes me think that whatever badness there is here is present in a powerful white guy dressing up like a…

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September 16, 2010, 8:39 am


By Mark D. Fefer of the Seattle Weekly:

You may have noticed that Molly Norris’ comic is not in the paper this week. That’s because there is no more Molly.

The gifted artist is alive and well, thankfully. But on the insistence of top security specialists at the FBI, she is, as they put it, “going ghost”: moving, changing her name, and essentially wiping away her identity. She will no longer be publishing cartoons in our paper or in City Arts magazine, where she has been a regular contributor. She is, in effect, being put into a witness-protection program—except, as she notes, without the government picking up the tab. It’s all because of the appalling fatwa issued against her this summer, following her infamous “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” cartoon.

Norris views the situation with her customary sense of the world’s complexity, and absurdity. When FBI agents, on a recent visit,…

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September 14, 2010, 8:36 am

Too Big For Powerpoint!

So it’s poster, instead:


It’s so complicated that the back is a multi-thousand word explanation of the front.

Thankfully, everyone can have their own, as the poster is available for purchase.

via Danger Room

September 14, 2010, 8:34 am

NYT myopia

The NYT discussion forum asks “why are colleges so selective?” Dean Dad moves in for the kill:

I couldn’t really expect them to acknowledge the existence of community colleges. There are only 1100 or so of them in the U.S., enrolling just under half of the entire undergraduate population of the country.

Hard not to sympathize with the vitriol.

Honestly, sometimes reading the Times I channel my inner Lou Ferrigno. “HULK SMASH PUNY RECORDING SECRETARY OF RULING CLASS!” What’s the difference between the New York Times and David Hasselhoff? One is a pathetic joke, and the other is David Hasselhoff.

September 13, 2010, 8:02 pm

Making Thomas Friedman look thoughtful


It may seem incredible to suggest that the anticolonial ideology of Barack Obama Sr. is espoused by his son, the President of the United States. That is what I am saying….For Obama, the solutions are simple. He must work to wring the neocolonialism out of America and the West. And here is where our anticolonial understanding of Obama really takes off, because it provides a vital key to explaining not only his major policy actions but also the little details that no other theory can adequately account for.


Gingrich says that D’Souza has made a “stunning insight” into Obama’s behavior — the “most profound insight I have read in the last six years about Barack Obama.”

“What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]?” Gingrich asks. “That is…

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September 12, 2010, 11:58 am

Making David Brooks Look Thoughtful

I don’t know why I even bother with Thomas Friedman:

Ask yourself: What made our Greatest Generation great? First, the problems they faced were huge, merciless and inescapable: the Depression, Nazism and Soviet Communism. Second, the Greatest Generation’s leaders were never afraid to ask Americans to sacrifice. Third, that generation was ready to sacrifice, and pull together, for the good of the country. And fourth, because they were ready to do hard things, they earned global leadership the only way you can, by saying: “Follow me.”

Let’s solve our problems by comparing them with Imaginary World ™, full of puppies and ponies and elves!

This is why other pundits think that George Will is an intellectual.

September 11, 2010, 5:39 am

Living Recipient for Medal of Honor

The first Medal of Honor awarded to a living soldier since the Vietnam War was announced this week:

Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will be the first living Medal of Honor recipient since the Vietnam War. On Thursday, President Obama spoke with Giunta, who is assigned to 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, in Vicenza, Italy, to inform him that he will be awarded the nation’s highest valor award, according to the White House.

There had been discussion of whether the Medal of Honor had become only a posthumous award:

The small number awarded and the fact that all were awarded posthumously has raised questions among members of Congress and senior military leaders. When asked by reporters, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said in September the issue has been “a source of real concern to me.” He added: The Medal of Honor nomination process is…

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September 10, 2010, 4:19 am

Military History Digest #128

Table of Contents

1. SB2U Vindicators by Steven Terjeson at World War II History
2. Hmdb Civil War Updates – Week of September 6 by Craig Swain at To the Sound of the Guns
3. Battle Ranges: Columbus-Belmont by Craig Swain at To the Sound of the Guns
4. “We Don’t Want to Kill You All in One Day!” by (dw) at of Battlefields and Bibliophiles
5. Saturday, 7 September 1940 by Brett Holman at Airminded
6. Napoleonic Wars: Bloodbath at Borodino by n/a at Military History
7. Robert Service: ‘Only a Boche’ by (Tim Kendall) at War Poetry
8. Arnold Bennett, Women and the Western Front by George Simmers at Great War Fiction
9. Maj. Gen. Benjamin Franklin Butler: the Moment He Enlisted in the Fight for Racial Equality by (Ron Coddington) at Faces of War
10. “Foos” Fighter by (Jimmy Price) at Over There

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September 8, 2010, 9:35 am

"Paolo Soleri to be demolished"

The Paolo Soleri

Paolo Soleri, now 91, was born in Turin and studied architecture there. He came to the US in the 1940s to work with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West. (He recounts amusingly (The Urban Ideal, 23-4) that with the little English he commanded at the time, he found himself on a bus to Tolleson, Arizona before being set right.) After a few years back in Italy, he returned to Arizona, setting up an architectural center of his own, Arcosanti. Much of its income came from handcraft projects, such as cast metal bells; but it has also been a laboratory for his architectural ideas.

He’s a visionary, who has seen certain ecological issues very clearly — notably, that the most sustainable mode of living for billions of humans on this planet of ours is to cluster together in cities, leaving as much as possible of nature to nature. Check out the wide-ranging interview with Jerry Brown (1, 2), from…

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September 8, 2010, 9:06 am

Cornell is hard.

A couple days ago I alluded to Henry Morgenthau’s premature departure from Cornell after some study of agriculture. I tried to find information about Morgenthau in The 100 Most Notable Cornellians, but discovered that the authors had instituted stringent criteria: you had to have completed an undergraduate degree. No famous faculty (no Richard Feynman or Vladimir Nabokov), nobody who got only a graduate degree (no William Gass), and no flunkouts. So no notability as a Cornellian for FDR’s Treasury Secretary and the President of the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference. Or for Kurt Vonnegut either.


September 8, 2010, 12:25 am

Thomas Pynchon is a highly realistic author, pt. V.*

Vice Admiral and Mrs. William H.P. Blandy cut a mushroom-cloud cake as Rear Admiral Frank J. Lowry looks on; November 5, 1946 at the Army War College in Washington, DC.

Via io9.

*No, there aren’t. I just couldn’t resist.

September 7, 2010, 12:00 pm

The End of Memory, the Beginning of History

There’s a transition between memory and history that happens as events stop being personal experiences and start being records. As the generation that experienced a certain era (World War II, the Cuban Missile Crisis, 9/11), begins to disappear from the scene, that era becomes “historical” in a way that it wasn’t before. OLYMPIA.jpg
So, too, when the remnants of an era begin to disappear:

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

This process can be fast. My first year students this semester were 10-11 years old when 9/11 happened, and they remember it much less distinctly than I do.

It can be slow. The flagship of Admiral George Dewey’s Asiatic Fleet from the Spanish-American War, the USS Olympia is still open for public viewing

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September 6, 2010, 2:26 pm

Keynes's conference and Morgenthau's dream.

Both the American and British chief delegates to the Bretton Woods conference were tall bald men, but there the similarity between them came to an end, and even in respect of their height they stood differently. Henry Morgenthau, Jr., hung on his own frame like a picture crookedly strung on a hook, while John Maynard Keynes wore his stature as comfortably as his tailored suits. Although Keynes was the older man, his powerful new ideas made Morgenthau look ever more like a relic. As Secretary of the Treasury since 1934, Morgenthau had helped engineer the New Deal. But as Keynesianism swept the policymaking landscape, Morgenthau became more old-fashioned, insisting that whatever Keynes might claim about deficit spending, the government ought to try a balanced budget—though between the Depression and the Second World War Morgenthau never presided over one. A cruelly witty Cambridge…

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September 5, 2010, 11:34 am

Combat Espresso

The relationship between an army and the food it eats is long and tumultuous. Military food needs to be enduring, transportable, and palatable, and the latter is often the first requirement discarded. GIs in World War II frequently complained about their “C” rations and the exotic alternate explanations for the acronym of current USA army rations, the MREs, include such things as “Morsels, Regurgitated, Eviscerated” and “Meals, Rarely Edible.” The actual meaning, “Meal, Ready to Eat” seems commonplace by comparison.

At the same time, however, food is comfort, and long has been. The chance to eat something warm or drink something hot has long been one of the few breaks a soldier might get in the trenches or in combat. A friend, who was a British army officer in the 1990s, recalled patrolling the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic and being pinned down by an IRA sniper….

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