Thursday, August 31, 2006

Return of the Tribes

Ralph Peters, a retired Army officer, has an article in the Weekly Standard in which he argues that globalization has passed its peak and that tribalism is on the rise. One of his prime examples is the utter failure of the European Constitution at the hands of the Dutch and French voters despite massive support from the elites in both countries. This has been followed by and increasing level of nationalism in Europe with trade and other restrictions with the EU cropping up in almost every country.

It is even more evident in what Thomas Barnett called the unincorporated Gap with tribalism and local customs remaining a dominant factor in the people's lives often despite national or religious connections with a broader community.

He suggests that the flat world of Thomas Freidman is actually a collection of elites that are becoming more and more isolated from the broader populations becoming a feudalesque artistocracy with closer ties to their economic and social peers around the world than their ethnic or geographical neighbors much as the Feudal nobles of the Middle Ages had done.

An interesting article.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I have seen two very different and yet interesting films lately. This has been a welcome surprise since this year has been one of drek in the theaters.

I saw Snakes on a Plane which I commented on earlier and A Scanner Darkly which was an interesting film and yet one for which the advertising missed the central focus of the film. The advertising suggested that the two personas on the main character were unaware of each other and this is patently untrue. He is the only one who knows that Officer Fred is Bob Arcter until the very end but he clearly does know.

The twist at the end suggested issues about the society in which the film was constructed that were never addressed leaving me feel like the whole thing was unfinished. The notion of the corporate power and independence from governmental authority was reminiscent of a movie from the 1970's and yet it was never discussed or dealt with. It was shown and then left hanging on the screen. If they wanted to suggest that it was representative of current events in some way, they clearly missed their mark.

Friday, August 25, 2006

The French (still useless)

The conflict between Israel and Hezbollah ended with a UN Resolution sponsored by Franch in which a UN peacekeeping force led by the French would go in to enforce the ceasefire. Since the resolution passed, France has been retreating from active participation like the weenies they truly are. Now they are trying to sabotage the entire process. The resolution called from 15,000 troops. The French now think this is excessive. I guess they want to continue the situation of Hezbollah troops training in clear view of peacekeepers playing volleyball. If that is all they are going to do the French should go ahead and send troops since they should at least play volleyball well. To bad their national leaders are gutless and balless and so arrogant that they can not just sit down and shut the hell up and let someone else try to actually accomplish something.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Butchering the language

I know that the English language is a moving target in which there is a great deal of flexibility in the creation of words, in particular as catchphrases. The Associated Press seems to have taken this to an almost absurd level. In sports the term three-peat was created to describe the an event that followed a repeat. It has filtered backwards now.

Riley seeks 'two-peat' with Miami Heat is the title of a story just posted on the Internet (I accessed it via Yahoo News). He wants to REPEAT a champion. If the word exists you don't have to make some stupid combo up to represent it.

Perhaps we should send the AP a dictionary.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Snakes on a Plane

I went and saw Snakes and it met my expectations. Not high art by any stretch of the imagination but probably the best popcorn film so far this year. It had some memorable lines and a few never to be forgotten visuals (the crotch bite still gives me a little twinge).

Much of the coverage of the film was that it did not do as much business as expected on the opening weekend. I believe that the film will make plenty of money for the studio but it will do so over an extended period of time. Studios are so enamoured of the opening weekend box office that that is all they consider. This has caused their marketing to become skewed. They also attempt to fix the reviews (or prevent them from appearing by refusing to allow reviewer to preview the films) so that nothing will break the weekend box office. If they spent more time trying to make movies people would enjoy rather than marketing crap, they would make more money in the long rum.

Snakes is a film that many will go to again and again just to find all the snake bites. It will be a profitable film. They just need to be patient.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006


The fall semester is about to start and I decided that I needed to get away for a few days so I did this past weekend. Sometimes taking a long weekend is a really good thing.

I drove to Atlanta to see the Braves play on Friday. I had a seat right behind home plate. It was very nice and the Braves won a very good game with Smoltz going the entire way and Francouer hitting a game winning double in the ninth. In the eighth inning Smoltz came up to bat and Bobby Cox did not pinch hit for him and in the at bat Smoltz fouled off a number of pitches a drew a walk and received one of the loudest ovations of the night. It was great to see a true competitor dig in and do his absolute best. Very cool.

On Saturday I drove up to some friends' house in North Carolina for a very long overdue visit.

Then on Sunday I drove through the Great Smokey Mountain National Park (a gorgeous drive that everyone should do if they haven't already.) to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge where I futzed about the rest of the day. I think I want to go back and spend several days there.

Then I drove home. I did use the Natchez Trace Parkway rather than the Interstate for the bulk of the distance between Nashville and Oxford. Another lovely drive though this one was largely devoid of cars unlike the Smokies.

A very relaxing weekend to help me get ready for a new school year.

Monday, August 07, 2006

College Rankings

Washington Monthly has published its College Rankings. These are based more on notion of how the university serves the nation and is based on such outputs are the number of graduates in service postions or that go on to get PhD's and graduation rates of poorer students rather than the size of the endowment or faculty salaries.

Their ranking system has resulted in some unusual outcomes. South Carolina State University ranked 9th and Alabama A&M was 24th. Neither even appeared on US News' rankings and yet here both were ahead of most of the Ivy League including Harvard and Princeton (US News' #1 and #2 schools).

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Will Power

I have not posted anything lately, in part because I have been rather busy and in part because many of the main events (the war in Lebanon for example) in the world are ones about which I am torn and do not have a single opinion to express.

I did however, read an interesting article that I thought I would mention to you all. Cordelia Fine, a research fellow at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne, wrote that success in education is a result more of will power and self discipline than intelligence. An interesting view point. She goes on to suggest that this self-discipline is a finite quality and should only be used sparingly and when necessary. If used for lesser accomplishments, it may not be available when really needed. This may just answer a large number of questions about me, or at least provide me with a built in ready excuse.