Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thoughts of the day

Frederick Douglass on the importance of military service for black American citizenship: "Once let the black man get upon his person the brass letter, U.S., let him get an eagle on his button, and a musket on his shoulder and bullets in his pocket, there is no power on earth that can deny that he has earned the right to citizenship." This is why, even with the Harry Lew and Danny Chen controversies, I advocate for Asian Americans to serve.

Battle of Gettysburg heroes: Once a soldier, always a soldier - 70-year-old War of 1812 veteran and resident Gettysburg curmudgeon John Burns voluntarily took up his musket and fought in the battle; General John Reynolds, the most respected general on the Union side, died early in the battle but not before making a crucial decision to hold the road system around Gettysburg, which was critical for the movement of Union troops during the battle. How might the nation's history, not only the subsequent course of the war, have been changed had Reynolds lived? Reynolds had the makings of a leader for the ages who might have taken Ulysses Grant's place in American history and done a better job of it.

The Library of Congress has a Veterans History Project. Can a version of the project be applied to Columbia's veterans? Not just war experience, but all military experience by Columbians. Extend to provide a broader (pre- and post-military) context for CU veterans so the CU military experiencee becomes an American and Columbian life experience. Why we served as well as what we did. Editorial commentary in hindsight that encourages revisiting the experience as CU vets age, to eventually record full life cycles of the CU veteran experience. Perhaps work with Columbia libraries, with alumni and student veteran groups, perhaps in conjunction with the Columbia War Memorial project. The CU military history project can clarify and broadcast the common and essential spiritual/cultural ties for generations of the Columbia military tribe/fraternity. The project can be a way to activate and develop an outreach and organizing system for student and alumni CU vets. It can provide a backdrop for CU ROTC and paint a rich brand for the CU military community.

Interesting fact: Free blacks lived, worked, and prospered in the antebellum (pre-Civil War) South. Some were even slave owners, albeit the slaves may have been family members of the black slave owner.

I'm a big fan of 2008's The Dark Knight because it appealed to my ethical and political sensibilities (. . . the mish-mash 2012 3rd movie in the Nolan Batman trilogy, Dark Knight Rises, not so much). Blogger Josh Xiong, a fellow neocon, reacted strongly to Dark Knight the same way I did, but articulated the movie's political implications better than I did. Excerpt:
Batman the Vigilante:

One of the main accusations hurled at the neocon vision of American power is that it is unrestrained and unruly. America under Bush has been characterized as a lone gunman, a cowboy outlaw taking arrogantly taking matters into its own hands. Certainly this has been the supposed case with the war in Iraq, which did not attain UN Security Council clearance and was in violation fo resolution 1444. For neocons, this was necessary, even if unfortunate. Neocons do not privilege international law (as dictated by UN governance bodies) over the assumed universally natural rights of all human beings. While they prefer to work multilaterally, they do not assume UN legal processes are sacred rites that legitimize any act. Moreover, in a world that is absent a “leviathan”, a world where the UN is unable and often unwilling to enforce its dictates due to politicization, the need for a lone, principled cowboy becomes evident. This is a dangerous proposition to make, and it comes with the caveat that the cowboy himself must not betray his own principles. But unfortunately, this is the world we live in, and any desire to achieve a better, more principled world requires that we break agreed-upon norms sometimes.

Batman is first and foremost a vigilante, which is by definition an outlaw. He exists and acts forever in violation of the agreed upon rules of society. But he realizes that innocent human lives must not submit to technicalities and bureaucratic processes that let criminals walk. Such a reality is unjust, even if it is indeed legal. In Batman’s world, the body that is supposed govern over all others is inept and corrupt. Its own police force is laden with spies from the underworld. Large enterprises are either owned by crime families or are complicit in their perpetuity. Gotham’s political leaders and law enforcers, like the UN, are either unable or unwilling to act in the name of justice. Batman, like the lone American cowboy, may be illegal, but his existence is derivative of a society that is so weak and degenerate it needs a vigilante save to it.

Neocons would argue that in a world where everyone is willing to act in accordance to liberal values - where governments do not commit genocide on their own people or murder dissidents en masse - international legality, even if it is imperfect, can exist and govern over us all. Liberal democracies can submit to international rulings out of cooperation and acknowledged mutual interest in perpetuating a rules-based society for the goods of peace, prosperity, and harmony it brings. Batman would argue that in a Gotham where the police can be trusted and the politicians possess courage, he can willingly submit to the rule of law. But neither neocons nor Batman live in the fantasies they wish were reality.
Smart cartoons, episodes on-line: South Park, Beavis and Butthead. The latest season of Futurama has exhibited markedly more nuanced sophisticated writing.

Two from the alt-right: VDH analogizes present-day California, where he is a lifelong resident, to the Road Warrior movie, Heather MacDonald on the racism (or common sense) of school discipline.

Pimp guidance: Rule's 2 Da game of Hoez!!!

The screw turns tighter: Atlantic writer Hanna Rosin confirms, indeed celebrates that, upwardly mobile college-educated American women are co-conspirators of the dominant hook-up culture in which playas win and nice guys lose the game. The piece also shows the cognitive dissonance of the feminist movement claiming economic disadvantage when women are outpacing men in the workplace and decrying the hook-up culture that women are defining.

Tighter: I watched the 2nd half of (500) Days of Summer, a relatively honest rom-com that evoked my traumatic Judy experience with a "quasi-but-not-really-relationship" in which the protagonist (Tom) commits his heart to a beautiful woman (Summer) who leads him on with mixed signals of intimacy, then devastates him when she drops him easily from her life. (I'd like to find the full this.) After the movie, I did some impulsive google surfing and discovered that her husband is a wealthy scion who works for the family business. In a superficial appraisal upon 1st discovery, I wondered what it was that he had to win her so soon after she thoroughly rejected me. Hell, he's even younger than her. I thought maybe he had tight game or they had an exceptional amount in common (ethnic identity, social style, religion). That all could be, but he's also rich. Well now, how practical of her. Fundamental truths apply another gut-blow to my bleeding 'beta' soul. I wish I had known when I was a teenager that my cherished self-defining romantic ideals are poisonous cliches - pretty lies.

Tighter still: 23-year-old Jenny An rationalizes her "self-racism" in choosing to date white men over Asian men. Part 2.

More. Where does "no spark" fall in?

Tigerhawk explains how the 'fixed costs' of regulation disproportionately affect small businesses compared to large businesses, thus why large businesses support more regulation to choke off rising competitors. In a related topic, Half Sigma calls for raising taxes on value transference activities, not value creation activities. Tigerhawk's suggestions for jobs stimulation.

I'm featured in Class of 2012 Standouts in Fostering a Stronger Public Interest Community.

Belmont Club dips into a rumination that has frozen me since I graduated, related to the sexual and economic politics referred to above: Is this the America I'm contemplating risking myself to fight for? I seek to give myself over to a worthy cause and I most admire America's champions who have selflessly fought - been injured or died - for a liberal world order since 9/11; however, I am troubled by the current economic, social-cultural, and political condition of America. I anticipated the country would fall into a crisis of identity and direction after 9/11; I tried to form Students United for America at Columbia (as one of the nation's preeminent cognitive centers) to help us deal with the crisis, but SU4A didn't survive long enough to meet the crisis when it blossomed. During this uncertain "crisis of legitimacy in the United States", what would I be giving myself to? I understand why some men choose poolside or MGTOW over dutiful citizenship. In light of my recent visit to Gettysburg, I envy the good American men on both sides of the Civil War who selflessly gave themselves to their cause, sure of the worthiness of their respective American nations for their sacrifice. But . . . but there is a distinct class of heroism reserved for those who commit and fight through a demoralizing state of uncertainty - the soldier who continues to fight in winter versus the sunshine soldier and summer patriot.

An essential question about commitment, clarity, and the Why We Fight: If Western progressivism has been conclusively discredited for its forceful displacement of native cultures like the American Indian tribes, then what is the ethical difference, after removing the Lebensraum aspect of autarkic Western expansion, between that and championing a liberal world order today in a 'clash of civilizations' against autocratic Middle Eastern regimes like Syria, Iran, Saddam's Iraq, or the Taliban in Afghanistan and their fellow travelers like al Qaeda? Are we allowed to be progressive if we cannot, by self-imposed rule, classify our competitors as regressive? What effect if we restrict our engagement at the same time our competitors are totally committed to establishing a world or just regional order that is incompatible with and opposed to our preferred liberal world order? I believe we need to restore our chauvinistic commitment to the American progressivism that shaped much of the 19th and 20th centuries.

For Why They Fight, read Syed Qutb's Milestones. Another link.

A well-meaning incompetent's slippery slope:

Ms Giminez reported that she worked on the painting in the open, other parishioners saw her doing it, and no one acted to stop her. If true, and it likely is true, it's an indictment of the psychology of the public, herd, and the mob. It's not just for reporting suspicions of terrorism: If you see something, say something. I'll add, do something.

A memorial TV theme song from my youth: 1990's Twin Peaks. One of these days, I'll do a 'babe of the day' post with the gorgeous actresses David Lynch featured on Twin Peaks.

The Dr Quinn Medicine Woman theme song reminds me a lot of the Band of Brothers theme song. looks like a successor to the now-defunct

It's hard to get worked up over the Harvard cheating scandal given that the service academies, which have prominently emphasized severe honor codes, have had major cheating scandals. It's also not clear the Harvard kids cheated so much as pushed the limit on blurry lines.


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