Eye on the Watcher’s Council

As you may know the members of the Watcher’s Council each nominate one of his or her own posts and one non-Council post for consideration by the whole Council. The complete list of this week’s Council nominations is here.

A position on the Watcher’s Council has become available. If you have a blog of your own, take a look at the current rules of membership, and consider applying.

Soccer Dad, “Cappucinos for Peace?”

Soccer Dad takes note of a case in Ethiopia where a clever entrepeneur is very nearly literally beating swords into plowshares. In this case he’s transforming mortar shells into espresso machines. Can the Palestinians do the same?

The Glittering Eye, “Skills, Employment, and Energy Use”

In my submission this week I consider the interrelationships of skill level of the labor force, total employment, and energy use in the United States.

Eternity Road, “The American Ideon: Its Decay and Restoration”

Francis Porretto’s disquisition on the erosion of what he refers to as “the American ideon” and his prescription for revitalizing it is quite interesting. I think there a few things missing from it, however. The first is that parents must be willing to sacrifice for their children—not just materially but in self-actualization and self-realization as well. The Guatemalan or Filipina or Jamaican nanny is unlikely to instill in children the values that Francis is calling for. It’s not their fault; it’s just the way it is.

I also think that there needs to be a re-emphasis on teaching the traditional American secular religion in the schools: that George Washington never told a lie, chopped down a cherry tree, and threw a dollar across the Potomac; that Honest Abe was born in a log cabin, was a railsplitter, and saved the Union and that was a good thing; that Ben Franklin arrived in this country with nothing and became the advisor to presidents, that Andrew Carnegie also arrived with nothing and became fantastically wealthy through hard work and then gave his fortune to help other Americans become literate; and all of the other myths our country is based on.

The Colossus of Rhodey, “Muslim Cashiers Refuse to Touch Pork”

Hube reports on Muslims cashiers refusing to touch pork at Target stores. There are things about this story that puzzle me. For example, why isn’t beef or chicken slaughtered by the conventional practices of American slaughterhouses equally forbidden since, as I read the relevant verses, they don’t meet the requirements of Muslim dietary practices any more than pork does? Ignorance? Custom? Sincere question here.

How is this case different from that of pharmacists who refuse to dispense abortifacients? Again, sincere question here.

Bookworm Room, “Voting for the Supremes”

Bookworm suggests that in the next presidential election it may be necessary for a lot of voters to hold their noses and consider whom the prospective presidential candidates might appoint to the Supreme Court.

The Education Wonks, “The Bad Seed: 13-Year-Old Andrew Riley”

EdWonk reports the case of a 13-year-old boy charged with 128 felonies, including violent ones. So, nature or nurture? It seems to me that teachers must intrinsically believe that nurture i.e. the environment e.g. education can make a critical difference in a child’s development. Otherwise they’re just wasting their time. Why isn’t there some sort of actionable parental malpractice involved in this case?

We can take some solace in the reality that, however many or severe his crimes, the budding felon will return to society in just eight years, fully schooled by professionals in the practice of his craft.

Big Lizard, “The Contranomics of Global Jihad”

Dafydd, Dafydd, Dafydd. You’ve touched on one of my hot buttons with your neologism, contranomics. I hate macaronics like this. “Dysnomics” or even “diseconomics”, please. Now that I’ve got that off my chest I’m ready to praise the substance of Dafydd’s post.

The post has a kernel of tremendous wisdom and potency: force projection is enormously expensive whatever you call it. This is as true for the United States as it is for China or Iran or even for stateless irhabis. China spends as little as it does on its military (however you reckon it China’s military expenditures are relatively small compared to ours) because its ability to project power beyond its borders is quite small. Recent expenditures on things like submarines and expansion of its blue water navy suggest that China’s military establishment may be more eager to change this than China’s non-military leaders have been.

But the key point is that even “global guerrillas” need an economic base to maintain operations. This is the reason I’m not enthralled by the 3GW and 4GW distinctions I’m hearing. I don’t believe it for a second. Just as there is only medicine, i.e. what works, not conventional medicine and alternative medicine, there is only war, not Fourth Generation Warfare.

Rhymes With Right, “Somebody Finally Noticed”

Greg complains about a central conceit of No Child Left Behind: that 100% of students will be at grade level by some arbitrary time. I think this is part of the “Lake Wobegon Effect” i.e. “where all of the children are above average”. There’s only one way to achieve this: lower requirements to what’s achieveable by the lowest-achieving students or, said another way, abolish formal education.

Joshuapundit, “Move It, Yah Big Baboon!—or, Scenes from the Class Struggle in South Africa”

Freedom Fighter posts on the conflicts between a troop of baboons and the human inhabitants of an area of South Africa. I think they need to read Rabbit Hill.

As humans move into, sometimes destroying, habitats this is a continuing problem. Here in the States we’re seeing a kind of second generation resurgence of wildlife like raccoons, deer, possums, coyotes, and so on in urban or suburban environments. They’re successfully adapting to the new environment and the results are frequently unpalatable to the human residents. I wonder if that’s what’s going on in this South African case.

Done With Mirrors, “Baited and Hooked”

Callimachus is unrepentant for his support of the invasion of Iraq. I note that Christopher Hitchens falls into that camp, too.

Right Wing Nut House, “Scandal Hysteria Grips the Capitol”

Rick Moran is fed up with the constant search for scandals in the nation’s capitol, in this case the “U. S. Attorney 8”. There are a couple of things that I think are worth mentioning in this context. First, Democrats will continue to do what’s working for them and pursuing every prospective scandal to the greatest of their powers is clearly working. It’s certainly a lot less politically costly than actually taking positions on issues of the day and doing things. Second, that this latest scandal has achieved its current proportions is a sign of how weakened the Bush presidency is. A strong presidency would have been able to shrug this off the day the story broke.

Well, I’ve decided which posts I’ll vote for. Which would get your vote?

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