Tuesday, June 24, 2014

BDS v. George Soros

I am one of many people disgusted with the ongoing Israeli settlement of the West Bank and with the failure — should I say, nonexistence? — of a viable peace process with any chance of culminating in a two-state solution. Some, with similar feelings, look to BDS for redress. Here's another reason why I can't and won't.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Noah Feldman & Iraq . . .

Noah Feldman's recent piece on Iraq:

is worth reading, unduly optimistic as it may be. Feldman, as is his wont, projects a sort of sanity and rationality among the major players — Sunni, Shiah and American — for which there is next to no evidence going back to and including the 2003 American invasion.

Fluent in Arabic and in constitutional law — Feldman is now a professor of law at Harvard — he was an obvious asset to American occupation forces as they tried to reconstruct Iraq post-Saddam. Feldman advised Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for example, on drawing up a new constitution. Sistani, Iraq's leading Shiite religious authority, was then a strong voice for Iraqi unity as against the sectarian violence. It's worth noting that Sistani is now marshalling Shiites to take up arms against the Sunni onslaught.

Feldman opposed the American invasion in 2003 but hoped his efforts might contribute, nevertheless, to the best possible outcome. He opined that Bremer et al might learn from their mistakes.

He was so wrong about that. Iraq seems to be one of those situations in which the very worst outcome is the one that materialized. And keeps on materializing.

I wish Feldman would come publicly to terms with that.

Having said that, his recent piece about Iraq is far more informed about the situation than what most others have to say.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014


Necessary reading about Iraq: Lawrence Wright's current blog post in The New Yorker:

Wright is to my mind our best and most indispensable investigative reporter. His New Yorker pieces about the Satanism scare — I wasn't merely abused, I was really and truly SATANICALLY abused, and hence I hate my parents and have so many personalities I am more like a village than an individual (compiled in Wright's "Remembering Satan, 1994") — helped put an end to what was becoming national hysteria. Wright's "The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda and the Road to 9/11", what I’ve read of it, in The New Yorker, is excellent. His most recent book "Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief" (2013) means he must always look over his shoulder to see if Tom Cruise or, if Cruise is on location, John Travolta is sneaking up on him.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

iraq syndrome: we're in the midst of it . . .

iraq syndrome: we are in the midst of it. (obama is the first president forced to deal with iraq syndrome).

what should it be? my view: not that american might is necessarily evil, but that it is at its best when held in abeyance.

without launching a single missile america kept soviet tanks from rolling into all of germany & france post wow ii.

now, it keeps china from seizing taiwan. (there are other factors, too.)

we ramp up quickly, when needed.

the germans in ww i, and the germans & japanese in ww ii didn't think we could. they were wrong. we did, decisively, in both cases.

american power doesn’t have to be evil, though, given vietnam & iraq you might be forgiven for thinking so.

Friday, June 6, 2014

basketball finals: air-conditioning, lebron limps

basketball finals: air-conditioning, lebron

i am not among those who resent lebron james for having left cleveland behind. he wanted to play for a championship caliber team — hence miami. michael jordan served notice to the chicago front office that they had better get him some support, or else. and so they did (pippen, grant — enough for six championships). magic johnson, similarly, made it clear he would not settle for the half court offense which was the game plan of paul westhead, the laker coach when magic broke in. westhead was soon history. this guy named pat riley came in to orchestrate the running game magic wanted.

the greats will have their say.

getting back to lebron: i don't resent him for leaving cleveland. i don't wish him ill or injury. on the other hand, i won't deny that i found it satisfying to see him limp off the court in the spurs rout of the heat the other night.

i'd never seen james hurt. i've seen a lot of great athletes deal with injury. now that we know he's human, let's see how he does.

further, about that game? how soon they forget.

in one of the 1980 championship contests between the celts and the lakers, it got very hot in boston garden, near 100 degrees and humid.

someone asked tommy heinshohn, the announcer, what the garden did to cool things off. he growled: the ushers go the exits. and they blow!

magic was sucking down oxygen through a facemask on the bench at the time.

his team lost.

i like it when football is played with the snow falling. i like it when it gets so hot and humid the celts win because the lakers are having trouble breathing.

some of the spurs key players — manu ginobli, tony parker — grew up playing basketball without benefit of air conditioning. lack of ac did not bother them in the game with the heat. it bothered the hell out of the heat.

Plato at the Googleplex: A Review

Rebecca Newberger Goldstein
Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away
When confronted with what had some had made of his work Karl Marx declared: I am no Marxist.

The Plato Rebecca Newberger Goldstein resuscitates and plunges headlong into twenty-first century America might well have declared: I am no Platonist.

Plato at the Googleplex is built around the idea of bringing Plato, in the flesh, from 4th century BC Athens into twenty-first century America, where he is plunged into situations calculated to challenge his way of thinking — and our own. If this results, at times, in culture clash — imagine Plato on a talk show with a right wing jock who mocks philosophy and spouts Church teachings — it might be recalled that Plato was no stranger to disputation. His dialogues dramatize debates between Socrates and his contemporaries that end only when Socrates is sentenced to drinking hemlock. Goldstein gives Plato a more gentle exit from America than Athens gave his teacher: When we last see him, Plato is being wheeled into an fMRI machine, eager to find out what, if anything, a brain scan can add to his understanding of the mind.