Assorted links

by on December 25, 2012 at 1:14 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

1. A perpetually disappointed Amazon reviewer (via Seth Roberts).

2. Part one of the Sidney Awards, by David Brooks.

3. What ranks high on the list of one’s life thrills?

4. California taxpayers do not endorse arts giving.

5. When will Saudi Arabia change?

6. Can we afford chimpanzee retirement, or will there be chimpanzee austerity?

libert December 25, 2012 at 1:46 pm

#1

On page 2, the reviewer gives 5 stars to “Bayesian Forecasting and Dynamic Models”

libert December 25, 2012 at 1:48 pm

(insert joke here about updating his priors)

D December 25, 2012 at 3:00 pm

So even David Brooks can’t seem to mention the unmentionable regarding the Unz piece. A lot of people must really hate non-Jewish whites.

Therapsid December 25, 2012 at 4:39 pm

It’s apparent from the Unz piece who those a lot of people principally are.

jorod December 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm

“Crucial to the state were the assertion of the monarchy‚Äôs Islamic roots and the consequent need to separate economic development from political and religious institutions, which could not be tampered with; and the embrace of an ideal of broad consensus that served to isolate and marginalize proponents of more radical reforms….”
In the U.S., the populist roots of the administration need to separate the rule of law from economic controls and social policy while it
co-opts reform groups and marginalizes conservatives. Conservatives are regarded as terrorists.

TuringTest December 25, 2012 at 4:29 pm

#3 — the no-sex rule (General Order #1) looks like another example of the Puritanical preference for anti-libertarian, “Prohibition”-style solutions, like no smoking in bars and cafes — in terms of daily life, the U.S. is not really that free by any measure

maguro December 25, 2012 at 5:23 pm

I don’t think anyone ever claimed the Army was a libertarian paradise. Sure, the US military is “not really that free”, but it’s not advertised as such and you don’t have to join these days, so I don’t see that there’s a problem. If personal freedom is very important to you, don’t join the military. You’d think this would be obvious, right?

GO #1 is merely an attempt to mitigate some of the problems caused by having men and women forward deployed together in operational units. Such as romantic entanglements affecting (or even appearing to affect) military decisions. Or having soldiers, sailors or airmen who are more preoccupied with who’s screwing who in the unit than in doing their jobs, which can be tedious in the best of times, but even moreso when you’re confined to a small airfield or FOB for months on end. Stuff like this can have a bad effect on unit morale and cohesion. In a combat zone, the need for military discipline and order trumps individual rights. Always has, always will.

wiki December 25, 2012 at 5:40 pm

@maguro
If that were really true, we wouldn’t allow women in the armed forces in the first place. So what we get is this hodge lodge of rules and regs so that we can say we have equality when in fact most women couldn’t pass unnormed, purely meritocratic physical tests at West Point. On top of that we can’t have the sexes work together without asking them to deny their sex drives. But I’m sure all this was created to maximize order and efficiency. (ROFL) If the US weren’t so dominant financially and technologically I doubt that the modern army would beat a ruthless and more old fashioned competitor. Might as well do away with the AFQT since iq tests are useless discrimination.

maguro December 25, 2012 at 5:53 pm

Precisely my point. Modern political sensibilities dictate that we must have a sexually integrated military, so clumsy attempts at social engineering like GO #1 are inevitable. Back in WWII they solved this problem by having separate women’s units – the WACs and WAVEs. That way, sexual hijinks didn’t compromise the chain of command. Such an elegant solution isn’t possible these days.

Willitts December 25, 2012 at 6:32 pm

I was a direct commission into the JAG Corps, so I can’t speak of the horrors of no sex in the barracks for four years. But I saw plenty of circumstances where sex within the barracks, especially within the chain of command, led to a complete breakdown of good order and discipline for entire units.

West Pointers got plenty of sex with their school mates during their weekend passes, and those relationships – like most others – didn’t endure. This woman is kidding herself that she missed out on something special from some square-chinned guy she saw from across the parade ground.

I also can’t speak to the stress of extended tours of duty without the comfort of the opposite sex, but it was not unbearable during my two six-month deployments. In Kuwait, we were far too busy to be thinking about knocking boots – or at least too busy to be doing it.

BTW, the MAIN reason for these GO’s is because PREGNANCY is one of the chief reasons for sending people home early. A cadet at West Point who gets pregnant is discharged. The USMA is doing them a favor by controlling their urges. It’s one of the dumb rules that actually makes some sense.

anon December 25, 2012 at 7:34 pm

plus no rule, no thrill. dorm room hookups hardly count as one of life’s thrills. surprisingly myopic article.

TuringTest December 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm

But the co-ed soldiers are going to be having sex anyways! (That was the whole point of the story at the link) So, why is complete prohibition a better policy than, say, “don’t ask, don’t tell” or some other different policy?

maguro December 25, 2012 at 6:12 pm

Sure, people still have sex. Sometimes they get caught and sometimes they don’t. Hell, *some* troops will disobey just about any rule you can come up with, whether it makes sense or not. The fact that some people break a rule tells us next to zero about the efficacy and justness of said rule.

In any case, I’m not claiming that GO #1 is optimal policy, just that there is a rationale for it beyond “Puritanical preferences”. Perhaps some other policy would be better, I don’t know. It seems to me that of all the ways being a military member impinges on one’s personal freedom, GO #1 is pretty small potatoes. Compared to the fact that when your Sergeant tells you to charge that machinegun nest, you have to, uh, charge that machinegun nest, it’s pretty trivial. At least in my opinion.

Dismalist December 25, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Same as in civilian life: ONLY chain of command problems.

mw December 25, 2012 at 6:01 pm

4. Yeah because what other interpretation could there possibly be? I wonder what the results would be for voluntary-tax-check-box-funding of ANYTHING that you could free ride off instead.

Cliff December 25, 2012 at 11:35 pm

Because no one ever voluntarily donates to the arts?

Willitts December 25, 2012 at 7:51 pm

5. Only three ways I see it changing: 1) civil war (and not for the better), 2) invasion (not likely), 3) a very…long…time.

I wish I could be more optimistic and predict that Saudi Arabia will become more like Jordan, but the religious fanatics are relatively large and the entire Muslim world looks at Saudi Arabia as the caretaker of Islam.

This is why both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden had plans to take over the country. One should mot understate the knife edge equilibrium on which the current rulers stand. Our interests include oil, but it goes far beyond that. Our ME policy for the last 60 year’s has maintained this tenuous balance.

agm December 26, 2012 at 1:17 am

Your option #3 probably comes closest. And it won’t actually be that long. They’re raking in the money now, but their fields are declining (hence the use of “enhanced oil recovery” techniques). At the same time, their industrial sector requires more and more energy, which is the motivation for their burgeoning interest in developing infrastructure to produce and distribute natural gas instead of flaring it off like they’ve done for decades (thus reducing the increase in demand for oil internally).

It is not unforeseeable that in a decade they will be net oil importers, and they certainly will be within two decades.

Kevin December 25, 2012 at 9:16 pm

9/11 was the sad excuse many Americans gave for all sorts of orgies, so why should Cannon (the author of the “thrill” piece) be any different? I’m of two minds. On the one hand, sex and warfare have been intermingled throughout history, from vicarious romps and prostitution to the rape of whole cities. Cannon might not realize it, but she hasn’t identified anything new. On other other hand, articles like this reenforce a sense that the Iraq and Afghanistan enterprises, from the start, were compromised by a level of campiness brought on by participants’ having watched too many films and tv shows. Read a column by Ernie Pyle on the Sicily campaign during WW2, and then watch an episode of “China Beach” with Dana Delaney, and it’s completely obvious which is closer to the reality being described. While I wouldn’t mind if the rules about relationships between soldiers in uniform were relaxed, I certainly understand why militaries prohibit such trysts; part of this has to do with unit cohesion, but another aspect is the discipline of the rank and file vis-a-vis the surrounding population. Wartime isn’t supposed to be “normal”. Lastly, does anyone else find the whole “war babe” phenomenon ridiculous? Why hasn’t anyone written about the preposterousness of people like Paula Broadwell (even before her affair with Petraeus was discovered).

willitts December 26, 2012 at 7:14 pm

You make a lot of good points. But consider this: when West Point was all male, there wasn’t much sex in the barracks either. How did those men survive?

Regarding the War Babe, before this it was women in sports locker rooms after the game. Giving away my age there.

Scott from Ohio December 26, 2012 at 12:33 am

Shorter #3: Make love AND war.

Amazonian December 26, 2012 at 10:30 am

Even I rate this comment 5 stars.

Brian Donohue December 26, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Re #5. Fascinating stuff. The world’s first Potemkin economy that can last for 100 years if the oil holds out.

Ted Craig December 27, 2012 at 9:32 am

Brooks: “People used to die quickly, but now more do so slowly.” Is this true? They died earlier, that’s for sure, but often blind and toothless. I doubt this Golden Age of dropping dead in one’s prime ever existed.

Ted Craig December 27, 2012 at 9:47 am

I believe some guy wrote about that, in fact:

Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.

Ezer December 27, 2012 at 9:41 pm

#1 He gave Dune one star…

Ezer December 27, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Actually two stars. What a disappointing commenter I am, way too drowsy

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