The classics

The classics

Tim Bray posts today about reading the classics, and he leaves out the best justification for doing so, which is to find continued written proof that the more things change the more they stay the same, at least as regards human affairs. Take, for example, this Harpers piece by Lewis Lapham, which compares the justifications offered for the Iraq war to those given to justify the invasion of Syracuse by the city state of Athens back in the fifth century BC. The opportunity to look back 2500 years and see how a policy of “preemptive self defense” led to ruin is priceless. Coincidentally, Alcibiades, the original neo-con, is featured in both items I link to.

The synchronicity with recent events of the quotations from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War in the Lapham piece is so alarming that your jaw will drop.

RIAA Radar

RIAA Radar

Awhile back I mentioned that I was going to give boycotting the RIAA a try, and to do so I was going to purchased used CDs when possible. I’ve been remiss in not mentioning that a reader sent me a link to the RIAA Radar, which will let you know whether just about any album was released by a label that’s an RIAA member. That way I can purchase non-RIAA albums new and provide the artists with a few ducats, and I can purchase RIAA albums used. When it comes to boycotting, precision counts.

What’s wrong with the Democratic party?

What’s wrong with the Democratic party?

George Lakoff probably does the best job of anyone of explaining the larger issues that are the root of the problems for the Democratic party right now. For a brief introduction to his argument, see this interview. Perhaps his most interesting observation is that conservatives put lots more money into building the infrastructure for their ideology than progressives do for systemic reasons.

Forcing the hand of politicians

Forcing the hand of politicians

Phil Carter makes an interesting point about America’s use of reserves that I didn’t know in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution op-ed:

The story starts with Vietnam. In that war, reservists largely stayed home, due in part to political calculations by the White House that it could not afford to mobilize thousands of reservists from every corner of America. After the Vietnam War ended, America’s generals restructured the military in such a way that would require the president to mobilize the reserves for any major conflict.

Army Gen. Creighton W. Abrams played a key role in crafting this “total force” concept, wherein key support units were placed in the reserves that active-duty combat units would need for any major war. The idea was that no president could again wage an unpopular war, because a future war would require reserve mobilization, and that would require popular support.
My fellow authors

My fellow authors

I’m not a member of the Authors Guild, but I am an author, and I think it’s downright stupid for the Authors Guild to oppose Amazon.com’s full text search feature. In reality, they’re trying to assert authors’ rights against their publishers, but the end result would be to kill an incredible tool to help sell books. There’s no realistic way that Amazon.com can get a release from every single author in their database, much less the authors of all of the books that aren’t yet indexed. The forest for the trees issue here is that if you want to steal the partial content of a book, you can easily go to the library and photocopy it or go to a bookstore and just read it.