A few weeks ago, George Packer argued that if and when the United States finally pulls out of Iraq, the country should offer visas to those Iraqis who collaborated with us during the occupation, seeing as how they'll all be in grave danger when we leave. As an aside, he noted that last year the United States accepted fewer than 200 Iraqi refugees (and looking around, it seems that most of those had applied for admission before the current war).
by Eric Rauchway I'd like to root for Steven Pinker in the Pinker/Lakoff quarrel, if only because Steve's a fellow Open U faculty member. (Go, Virtual Dons!) But then he trotted out this point: Whose Freedom? shows no trace of the empirical lessons of the past three decades, such as the economic and humanitarian disaster of massively planned economies, or the impending failure of social insurance programs that ignore demographic arithmetic.
by Richard Stern How wonderful it would be if all things were governed by Intelligent Design, and that we were intelligent enough to figure out the design. As far as the universe is concerned, my guess is that we have about the same sense of its ultimate design that a worm has of relativity theory or Hamlet. As for matters closer to home, the record is not all that great. Predictions about the outcome of major policy decisions are not all that brilliant. Henry Kissinger's gloomy assessment of the U.S.
by John McWhorter Having participated in the debate over racial preferences and "diversity" for a while, I approach new books on the topic expecting variations on a few key positions. However, in The Trouble With Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality, University of Illinois at Chicago English Professor Walter Benn Michaels has an interesting take on the terrain. Michaels condemns the diversity regime for its social calisthenics about our cultural differences while turning a blind eye to class-based inequity.
by Eric RauchwayOn seeing Marginal Revolution's item about a beautiful Flash animation explaining ten dimensions and superstring theory (with a narrator who sounds like--is?--Peter Coyote), I was sad to discover it's possibly not very good in terms of actual physics. Which brings up the challenge of illustrating abstract concepts, which educators increasingly face as we use computer presentations in class.
It took only a few sentences on Wednesday for Donald Rumsfeld to demonstrate why he is both morally and strategically unfit to serve as secretary of defense. In a townhall-style meeting at a staging area in Kuwait, Rumsfeld was asked by Specialist Thomas Wilson of the Tennessee National Guard why soldiers were forced "to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromised ballistic [i.e., bulletproof] glass to uparmor our vehicles?" There was a short pause, and then many of the 2,300 troops in attendance erupted in cheers and applause.
Jerusalem, Israel--The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, had planned on offering the usual complaints when he visited Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last week. There was the stalled road map, Israel's security fence, and the recently announced expansion of West Bank settlements close to the Green Line. But, before he arrived in Jerusalem, something happened that changed Lavrov's agenda: the massacre of Russian children by Chechen Islamist terrorists.
Well before he officially launched his candidacy in mid-September, Wesley Clark was hailed as the Democrats' savior. Party strategists, convinced that the front-running Howard Dean would flame out against George W. Bush, saw in Clark not only a sensible political alternative but, just as important, an electable one.