Sunday, October 14, 2012

Thoughts of the day

With the NAACP lawsuit re Stuy in mind, Minding the Campus on anti-Asian discrimination in university admissions. Inside Higher Ed report. Yahoo article. NY Times article. NY Times article. Dartmouth article. The American Conservative Ron Unz article; summary by Steve Hsu; follow-up by Conor Friedersdorf. Chuck Ross. Princeton Professor Thomas Espenshade's homepage. 80-20 National Asian American Educational Foundation.

A Stuyvesant alumni twitter. Twitter is just like a scrolling headline newsfeed.

Phantom of the Opera thought moved to here.

The Simpsons captured nicely the unrequited love of awkward lonely boys for mortified girls in the highwater season 4 episode 15, I Love Lisa, two episodes before all-time Simpsons great episode Last Exit to Springfield. The sadness of Ralph Wiggum on Valentine's Day, Lisa's sympathy, I Choo Choo Choose You, the shock of love story turned lie in an instant, and the catharsis of reenacting one of history's great romances with Lisa as George and Martha Washington. Interestingly, and true to life in my experience, the rejection by their love objects transform both Ralph Wiggum and the Phantom of the Opera from awkward misfits into electrically dynamic men, infused with the explosive passion of the dark side.

Génération Identitaire, a French youth nationalist movement, has a slick "declaration of war" on youtube. Interestingly, not all the youth in the video are white, which speaks to more of a cultural and perhaps class-based movement than an ethno-nationalist movement. When I visited France, there was a palpable conscientious sense of French cultural identity, so a strong reaction against invasive non-conforming cultures makes sense. I'm reminded of some of the comments to my first NAACP-Stuyvesant post objecting to the "white privilege" concept, which in turn reminds me of a main reason I want the military ethos of "green" injected into civil society. I've observed that the social nature of people is tribal and competitive. We are part of ancient tribes that bind us with powerful personal, familial, ethnic, and religious ties. A multicultural nation can be torn apart in a microcosmic version of Sam Huntington's Clash of Civilizations if the populace does not also share a powerful national tribe. The United States is a multicultural nation. In college, I learned a tribe that crossed boundaries to bind a community was called a "cosmopolitan identity" - think the diverse but unified crew of Star Trek's Enterprise. I was part of a diverse but unified national tribe as a soldier. My national tribe was the United States Army. I would like to bring the American military's conscientiously shared perspective to civilian America; however, I do not want to repeat Mao's disastrous mistake of trying to forcibly unify heterogenous China with comprehensive social militarization. I haven't figured out yet how to spread the unifying "green" ethos in civil society except for the civil-military movement I tried to foment in college. As Americans, we belong to many different tribes, but it is essential that we all also identify ourselves with the same American tribe: United we stand, divided we fall.

An article by former Barnard professor Thaddeus Russell. It's heartening to see Bad Thad is still beating the contrarian anti-progressive/anti-conservative drum for personal freedom, which I admire. He'd be an MGTOW guru if he wanted to be. Russell taught my favorite and most thought-provoking class (American Civilization after the Civil War) I took at Barnard/Columbia, which was also the last class he taught at Barnard. And yes, I realize my advocacy for a civil-military "green" social ethos contradicts my support for Professor Russell's rebellious countercultural individualist ethos. I haven't thought much yet about how to reconcile the two beliefs.

A comment about military service as American racial unifier.

Dress Gray by Lucian Truscott IV (USMA '69) gives good insight into the West Point life from the perspective of one rebellious, narcissistic graduate. The murder mystery and grand conspiracy plot is contrived and loosely drawn, but the far-fetched plot seems to be only a device for the author to write about his love-hate relationship with West Point rather than the main purpose for the book. A 1979 article on Truscott points to his motivation for writing the book: "Lucian had turned his attention to Dress Gray, encouraged by a $20,000 advance from Doubleday, after deciding, for legal reasons, to forsake a book on his West Point class." I actually would have been more interested in his original concept. He could have changed the names. I wonder if it would have helped had I read Dress Gray and Atkinson's The Long Gray Line before I went to West Point. Looking back, I'm surprised that prepsters weren't encouraged to be more curious and read more about West Point.

Oldie but goodie MilVets press release (that no one actually saw outside of Columbia).

Bookmarked for later comment. Upsetting, angering. Liberals vs Islamists. Drone assassinations and military/security financial aid to the government may be necessary, but by themselves will not advance the liberal narrative in the civilizational war of ideas. A reminder that Afghan women and girls face the same dangers from Islamist radicals as was inflicted on Malala Yousafzai.

Reject Bush-era liberalism/neoconservatism and this is what you get: the Ambassador Stevens assassination in Libya, the fumbling away of post-Surge Iraq, and jihadists feeding on the Syria conflict. I agree that Bush's whole post-9/11 foreign policy was too expensive, but it was a fundamentally better option than Obama's realist foreign policy. Start-up is normally expensive and mistake-filled, but that's just the developmental curve. We should have streamlined, improved, and made Bush's interventionist foreign policy more cost-effective under Obama rather than throw out the baby with the bathwater.

Fellow Stuy alum Reihan Salam talks about Iraq by piggybacking on a Kimberly and Frederick Kagan article. An anti-OIF reader commented and I responded. I haven't replied to the reader's reply to my response because my comment took a long time to make it past the editors and I had given up on it. I'm very late by now, but I'll get a reply out. (Done.) Add: Washington Post fact-checker calls out Obama's attempt to spin his egregious Iraq failure into a foreign policy success.

Sounds familiar - from Grantland: Burton, in a 1991 interview: "It's about depression and it's about lack of integration. It's about a character. Unfortunately, I always see it as being about those things, not about some kind of hero who is saving the city from blah blah blah. If you asked me the plot of Batman, I couldn't tell you. It's about duality, it's about flip-sides, it's about a person who's completely fucked and doesn't know what he's doing. He's got good impulses, but he's not integrated. And it's about depression. It's about going through life, thinking you're doing something, trying very hard. And the Joker represents somebody who gets to act however he wants."

Bachelor chow: Icy Point canned pink salmon - good stuff. Mix a can of salmon, oil included, with a can of Progresso soup - talk about a rich broth. Eat with pretzels. The fishy smell of the salmon soup gets to be too rich, though - it's not an everyday kind of meal. A Ragu sauce, can of salmon, Ramen mix with a can of Spam on the side is a pretty good meal, too. Dinty Moore Beef Stew - not good.

Reading Terminal Market is a must-visit tourist location in Philadelphia famous for its eateries and stalls selling various foodstuffs. While there are better known eateries in the market such as Dinic's and Carmen's, if you only have the time to sample one Reading eatery, I recommend the very tasty Beck's Cajun Cafe. A bonus is the waiting time for service at the not-famous-but-should-be Beck's Cajun Cafe at meal times should be reasonable. The better known eateries are notorious for their long winding lines at meal time and their food isn't better.

Oh yeah, Pat's and Geno's cheesesteaks are bland and overhyped, but they're both touchstone landmarks, so a tourist to Philadelphia still needs to try them both out one time in order to set a baseline experience for genuine Philly cheesesteaks. Fortunately, you can visit both in one trip since they're across the street from each other. The only sandwich I ate in Philadelphia that lived up to my pre-visit fantasy of Philly cheesesteaks was the Train Wreck PO Boy at Beck's Cajun Cafe.

Les Stroud's pre-Survivorman specials (Winter, Summer, Off the Grid) are better than his Survivorman series, which is still pretty good. Stroud, even as boss as he is, is still no Dick "Alone in the Wilderness" Proenneke, though I admit I haven't finished watching Stroud's Off the Grid.

Businessman blogger Tigerhawk gives his take on the "you didn't build that" argument by Elizabeth Warren.

One for the good things list: WFAN 660 AM on-line. The on-line WFAN sound is clear, which is not the case with my staticky radios. Latenight sports radio does not get better than Steve Summers and Tony Page back-to-back. Bonus: ESPN New York 98.7 FM on-line.

GQ's cover story on Jeremy Lin by Lin-fan Will Veitch. Contrast with the gratuitous hit piece on Lin by Lin-hater Mitch Lawrence. Stats-based prediction by founder and Lin fan, Mike Kurylo. Last season, Lin's play reminded often of a proto-Nash, but also reminded that he didn't play PG in college. I believe the ceiling for Lin is Steve Nash, if he can fully convert to PG and improve his streaky jumpshot, and his floor is Delonte West, if he is unable to convert to PG, loses his intuitive flair, and settles as a servicable combo guard. The niche for Lin between his floor and ceiling is do-everything, game-changing 3rd guard. Much of what Bill Simmons says about James Harden's 3rd guard role with the Thunder could apply to Lin, such as "like Dennis Johnson, Manu Ginobili, Joe Dumars and (going way back) Sam Jones before him, Harden has shown the enviable ability to lay low for 42 minutes, then rise to the occasion when it matters." With the Knicks, Lin could have shifted to the 3rd guard role if starting PG didn't work out. The Knicks need a versatile, clutch, playmaking 3rd guard to fill in the gaps on a team of specialists and poorly matched players, help Carmelo Anthony as a pressure release valve, and bail out the Knicks' clunky offense with his offensive creativity. On the Rockets, it's starting PG or bust for Lin.

Advice on eliminating fear.

Destruction, one of the Endless siblings in Neil Gaiman's Sandman, is an allegory for a once-passionate, now-burnt-out activist who is repelled by the causes to which he once gave of himself totally. Activism is about destruction in search of creation. In Brief Lives, Destruction lives a self-obsessed MGTOW lifestyle, which is a characteristic of former activists who have turned their light inward.

Warriors, Come out to play-ay! and Somebody to Love.

TLC show Breaking Amish is a fraud according to this interesting ex-Amish blog.

Problem with stocking food in my apartment: I eat it impulsively.

You snooze, you lose: In the morning, I saw that someone in my apartment building had thrown out a desk chair that was dirty and missing the sliders on the left runner, but otherwise looked comfortable and intact. I decided to go down late at night for a closer examination to decide whether to take the chair. But it was gone. Oh well, maybe it was buggy or its frame was cracked somewhere anyway.


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