The Invisible Adjunct is getting more visibility as I just put his/her site on my blogroll. It is a rather interesting read for those of you in the Academy, though the language and intellectual references can be a bit arcane at times. The IA actually called somebody a Straussian in one post! I style myself more in the vernacular, as I've been referred to the Howard Stern of academia (or at least my discipline). This aside, there are many interesting points on this superb site!
I haven't been receiving much spam on my johnlemonhead email with the exception of all those appeals to help the former president (or whatever) from Nigeria. I was discussing this yesterday with someone. I guess spam still mystifies me. It is an incredibly low-cost endeavor, but the return also would seem to be non-existent, especially for the Nigerian "help the president" pleas. Does anybody fall for this stuff? ...and if they do, I think that they should be left to pay for their own stupidity.
I missed the live broadcast of the President's speech last night because Lemon Jr. took center stage for his first public performance. It went amazingly well, and he literally took center stage -- at two separate times -- and was one of the most amusing kids. Granted, this is proud pa-pa talk, but I think my kid is going to end up a ham like me.
Simply a great speech. Was it staged? Sure, all great speeches are. (Understand that Judy Woodruff?) But it was touching and strong at the same time. If you visit the White House website where the speech is, they are labelling the page "Renewal in Iraq." "Renewal" is a good word.
I'm really starting to think that if President Bush holds the line on tax cuts and the economy gets rolling again, his administration will be quite Reagan-esque. (Admittedly, I'm still troubled by his cave-ins on steel tariffs, soft-woods tariffs, agricultural subsidies, and school choice, so he has a bit of work to do to convince fully win me over; but I guess that being a good subject in the Jeffersonian sense means never being fully satisfied).
I may be reading too much into this, but I received an interesting plea to subscribe to National Geographic magazine. Granted, they have cool photography and nude pygmies, but I just don't have the time to read it. However, I did notice something interesting in their marketing hook. If I signed up for a year's subscription, I would receive a free Middle East map AND a Pearl Harbor book. Hmmmm... The Mid-East map I can understand -- it is topical and NGS does a good job with maps. But to connect it with a Pearl Harbor book got me immediately thinking about the connections between Pearl Harbor and 9-11 and the result of the wars that occured afterwards. In case you don't remember, we won WWII and are doing quite well in the War on Terrorism (including Afghanistan and Iraq). I'm sure somebody at National Geographic must have thought of this connection. If that is true, it certainly indicates what they think is important to their (potential) subscriber base. Yet another sign that we're winning!
As many of you might know, one of my blogging buddies -- Boycott Hollywood -- is being shut down by the William Morris agency that represents several stars who were mentioned on this site as either anti-war, anti-Bush, and/or anti-US. Tim Robbins talked about a chill wind when someone uninvited him from a party, yet the Hollywood crowd sees no problems in taking legal action against someone exercising First Amendment rights. These creeps even threatened Boycott Hollywood with possible civil and criminal actions. Go to their site, while it is still up, and read the actual letter from the Morris agency. It is simply outrageous.
There is a silver lining here folks. The left is terrified and they have no philosophical basis from which to argue their points anymore. They haven't for awhile, but the seriousness of 9-11 really pierced their paper-thin armor. When you start losing your arguments philosophically, you usually resort to coercion. History shows though, that great ideas always trump brute force in the long run. That is why the USA is the strongest, most productive, nation on earth.
Thanks Boycott Hollywood! It was great while it lasted. We'll carry on the fight!!
A significant quake was reported in Turkey. Usually in developing countries like Turkey, that still don't build structures up to the most recent quake codes (or even ones that date back 50 years), such events can be disastrous, if not cataclysmic.
Remember the grief we received about moving our ground troops through Turkish territory?
Now think about this. If our soldiers were stationed in Turkey when this happened, they would have been the first on the scene. Still, even without our troops there, Americans will respond to this disaster with enormous helping hands. More than Syria. More than Saudia Arabia. More than Iran. And probably more than France or Germany (though the large Turkish population in Germany may sway policy there). Let people know about this the next time they talk about how monstrous American "imperialism" is.
Fueled by angry elite, the "Arab street" may be perpetually angry at us, but without America much of the Arab street would lay in continual ruin.
Interesting story about somebody stealing something absolutely useless. I really don't understand why people would buy one of these things for $5,000 anyways! I would be grateful if anybody could explain the appeal of these things to me.
If you have been wondering why I have been slow posting lately, it is because I've been log-jammed with work. By the time I'm ready to do a bit of blogging, I am usually too tired. Plus, west coast blogging tends to put one at a 2-3 hour disadvantaged over your more-cultured eastern bloggers. Things will get better when I fail all my students on their midterms and they all drop the class. "Fail 'em all and let God sort 'em out," that's what I say!
The Lemonhead just gave a great speech last night regarding the issue of rebuilding Iraq, specifically the prospects for democracy. I made the argument that perhaps the most critical factor needed for democracy to succeed was to put the oil in private hands. The reason is that if the state owned the oil wells and reaped the revenues from it, they would have no incentive to negotiate with civil society over what political institutions would best serve the citizenry. Our republic was founded on the principle of "no taxation without representation," but the basis for building institutions of representation was for "the people" to determine the level and form of taxation. I recommended that the new Iraqi state should get its principal source of revenue from a flat income tax (which would create an incentive for the government to grow the economy via a system of stable property rights and rule of law). If the new Iraqi state can get revenue directly from the ground, they really don't need to worry about what their citizens want or say. Right? This has been precisely what has been going on for the past 30 years or so.
But putting oil revenue in the hands of private interests poses a political dilemma for President Bush. Privatizing the oil wells might provide ammunition to his "no blood for oil" opponents, but who cares? ...it's not like those greying ponytailers and blackshirted anarchists were going to vote for him anyways. Nonetheless, he did say that the oil was for the people of Iraq. So here's a solution:
* Create a private Iraqi oil corporation (or two -- north and south).
* Since this oil corporation may not have the skills or know-how to pump and distribute oil, allow them to contract with some of the big private firms out there.
* Give every Iraqi citizen stock in this (or these) Iraqi company(ies), and prohibit the sale of this stock for 2-3 years (preventing mafia-style bosses from duping new stockholders who are not familiar with stock).
* A portion of the profits on oil sales for the first several years should be put into private investment (retirement?) accounts for Iraqis. This would have the effect of creating a pool of private capital that could serve as the basis for developing small and medium-sized businesses, who in turn would have a strong incentive to back reforms that promote a stable property rights and the rule of law. (Look at Chile for a model.)
* After a couple years, these private Iraqi corporations can have the option to buy out the contracts of the international firms, or continue them. This would give the international firms an incentive to participate from the get go.
Considering that more than 50% of the US population now owns stock (generally in the form of a retirement fund), I think this policy is politically saleable to all but the ponytailers and anarchists. Let them write poetry!
Poliblogger has just signed on as a correspondent for the Political State Reporter, along with James at OTB. A great source of local news all compiled nationally. Keep up with your own state, or one of your former states. Some of the best and weirdest news happens locally. Plus, they have an electoral college calculator to help you predict the next election! Whoo-hoo!
Will JL sign up as a correspondent? Well, JL should be reading and preparing for his stupid class today, so no...not in the near future.
PAPPA DON'T (PRACTICE WHAT YOU) PREACH...YOU'RE IN TROUBLE DEEP
It is pretty surrealistic when Madonna waxes eloquent on how the unabased pursuit of money and fame in American life is a corrupting influence on our society, but at least she should have the sense then to stop whiningif she doesn't get her bottle .
That same "scoop" also notes that Tim Robbins, of "Howard the Duck" fame, is so flummoxed by the recent negative reaction he has received over his pro-Saddam comments that he has hired a publicist. Tim, save yourself some money! All you need to do is recognize that people who don't like your opinion are free to boycott you or ignore you. If you don't like that, then shut up. The most brilliant part of the news item though was that his publicist sought a new venue to screen an anniversary showing of "Bull Durham" that would be appropriate. Where, you ask? Why the Brooklyn Academy of Music, of course!
REPUBLICANS ARE STUPID...SO THINK THE INTELLECTUAL GUARD
Following up on my "Bush is Stupid" post below, wherein I personally did not believe Bush to be stupid, but was commenting on the general attitude of academics, I ran into another case of innate bias against conservatives/Republicans. A junior colleague of mine was overheard (by me) saying to someone else that she had a Republican in class and it was surprising because he seemed pretty articulate!
In all honesty, I hope that these folks keep thinking that Republicans are dumb as it will make our job a bit easier come the next election cycle -- local and federal.