Did you hear what he said?!? Here’s your afternoon blogroll!!!

1)  Happy birthday, Thomas Paine! As Judith Shklar once mentioned, the thrust or strength of Paine was that he was able to make a very small pamphlet about a regional conflict into a global manifesto about transcendent issues that are still with us today.

2) David Beer’s book Punk Sociology sounds rad.  Here’s a blurb from a blog post of his:  “The book itself develops an idea I’ve previously written on, which is that we can draw upon alternative forms of knowledge in order to develop the repertoire of sociology and the social sciences. This draws on work by Howard Becker and others. The book responds directly to a range of debates on the future of sociology (including those in the picture below, amongst others)…. And here’s a review of the book from This Sociological Life.

3)  The 100 year anniversary of World War One continues to bring almost always sober analysis, both of what happened then and the world it left behind, and that the part of the world mostly suffering from the effects of the Great War are outside of Europe, “Fortunately, there was no relapse, because the West had learned its lessons from historical mistakes. Today, three factors loom large in the avoidance of disaster: the United States’ military presence in Europe, the progress of European integration, and Europe’s abandonment of great-power politics. Yet there is no point in fooling oneself: Only as long as the Balkan countries believe in the European Union and the benefits of membership will today’s precarious peace in the region become permanent.

No such hope currently exists for the Middle East, whose contemporary political borders were largely established by Britain and France during WWI, when the diplomats Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot negotiated the division of the Ottoman Empire. Likewise, the creation of Israel harks back to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, whereby the subsequent British mandatory power in Palestine supported the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.

The Middle East created back then is, more or less, the Middle East today. Yet we are now witnessing its disintegration, because the Sykes-Picot design always implied a strong external hegemonic power (or two) able and willing to maintain stability by channeling (or suppressing) the region’s numerous conflicts. Great Britain and France, the first hegemonic powers, were succeeded by the US and the Soviet Union – and, finally, by the US alone.

America’s misadventure in Iraq, its exhaustion as a world power, and its unwillingness to maintain its previous level of commitment to the region have rendered the Sykes-Picot structure untenable, because no other external force for order is available. The resulting vacuum has been filled by various currents of political Islam, terrorism, protest movements, uprisings, secession attempts by national or religious minorities, and aspiring regional hegemons (Iran and Saudi Arabia).”  

4)  New Book:  The Jewish Jesus:  How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other, Peter Shafer.  Blurby: “In late antiquity, as Christianity emerged from Judaism, it was not only the new religion that was being influenced by the old. The rise and revolutionary challenge of Christianity also had a profound influence on rabbinic Judaism, which was itself just emerging and, like Christianity, trying to shape its own identity. In The Jewish Jesus, Peter Schäfer reveals the crucial ways in which various Jewish heresies, including Christianity, affected the development of rabbinic Judaism. The result is a demonstration of the deep mutual influence between the sister religions, one that calls into question hard and fast distinctions between orthodoxy and heresy, and even Judaism and Christianity, during the first centuries CE.”

5)  I wouldn’t go to Sochi.

6)  The mixed, and mostly bad, legacy of Yalta.

7)  I’m not sure what the correlation between literary “symbolism”, as described here, and our ever-present tendency to see things through art that confirms biases, but I thought this was interesting.  Of the authors mentioned and quoted, hardly any of them sought to provide a symbol.  The symbols came through the writing process, and not before.  

8) Judging the constitutionality of Obama’s remarks has a lot of wrinkles., via the Volokh Conspiracy (this was written prior to the speech).

9) The Aid Debate rages one.  Here’s is Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson arguing for robust, inclusive institutions as a way to really help Africa, and here is Ken Opalo saying, essentially, “yes, but…

10) Flags made out of regional food, and Buzzfeed gets trolled.  Hard.

Happy Wednesday!




Stop watching the State of the Union, Citizen! Here’s your Evening Blogroll!

Short and Sweet

1)  At the Volokh Conspiracy, an overview by Professor Nicholas Johnson over his book, Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/01/28/negroes-and-the-gun-slaves-fugitives-freemen-and-citizens/  “The Resistance at Christiana is especially notable not just because an entire armed black community rallied to defeated slave catchers. It is particularly evocative because of the detail provided in the written account by the central black hero, William Parker and by Fredrick Douglass who facilitated the final leg of the escape and later wrote this: “I could not look upon them as murderers. To me, they were heroic defenders of the just rights of man against man stealers and murderers.” When they parted ways at the border of Canada, Douglass reports, “I shook hands with my friends, and received from Parker the revolver that fell from the hand of the slaver Gorsuch when he died, presented now as a token of gratitude and a memento of the battle for liberty at Christiana.

Nineteenth century black men participated in the ultimate act of political violence, fighting bravely in the civil war. Many of them walked out of war into freedom carrying their service weapons and war prizes. They would need them.

Almost as soon as the shooting war stopped, Southern governments moved to reinstitute slavery through a variety of state and local laws, restricting every aspect of Negro life. Gun prohibition was a common theme of these “Black Codes.” 

Related though older link from Bleeding Heart Libertarians:  http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2011/08/what-are-you-going-to-do-with-your-gun/

2)  Barry Stocker continues to post excerpts from his new book on Kierkegaard.  Read. Them “Kierkegaard’s liking for original simplicity connects him with both the monarchism of Humboldt and the republicanism of Montesquieu and Rousseau.  As we have already seen, in The Limits of State Action (1993, 39-40), Humboldt states a preference for the simplicity of royal government, the choice of early free people which avoids the multitude of demands for state action which follow from other governmental regimes, as the monarchy clearly only serves in the functions of army commander and chief judge. For  Montesquieu, simple democratic republics in which there is little inequality, and laws are indistinguishable from customs, have an elevated role, though that is certainly not the end of his discussion of liberty (The Spirit of the Laws, Part 1). For Rousseau, the ideal republic will be simple, poor and equal, and laws will be accepted as part of customs (Social Contract, II.12). Rousseau accepts that modern states are mostly larger in territory, and more complex in function. Hume had argued that the original contract completely disappears in history, so we are constrained by general respect for laws and political institutions and the recognition that they are generally beneficial (‘Of the Original Contract’ in Hume 1987). Applying Kierkegaard’s argument in context, we can say that political systems which have more laws and more representation are worse than pure kingship, but necessary as more functional in the face of human limitations.”

3)  Monday was International Holocaust remembrance Day.  Here’s a reading list from Oxford University Press.

Have a fantastic evening.

Lunchtime! Also, Here’s Your Afternoon Blogroll!

1)  The problems of a tribunal in Lebanon

2) If you’re white and educated, you’re the reason why there is political partisanship?  Hmmm….  I think political partisans are the reason there is partisanship, and as a supporter of partisans and partisanship (though not being a member of a party myself) I see no issue here.

3)  Radley Balko demonstrated the problem with drug dogs.

4)  Pluralism, in general, as well as plenty of other things, properties, and peoples, are under assault in Ukraine.  “The Ukrainian parliament recently passed legislation directly modeled on Russian precedents. The laws curb demonstrations, using language broad enough to apply to almost any gathering. They criminalize “slander,” which might mean any criticism of the government. They require the members of any organization with any foreign funding, including the Greek Catholic Church, to register as “foreign agents,” which is to say spies. These laws were passed at night, with a show of hands. Deputies did not discuss them or, in some cases, even read them.”  States are going to do what they do best:  seek out information.  In the wake of protests, their thrust of information seeking will be that much more pointed.

I’m afraid this is going to get worse before it gets better.

5)  New book on the Huguenots.  Blurby, “How did the Huguenots of Paris survive, and even prosper, in the eighteenth century when the majority Catholic population was notorious for its hostility to Protestantism? Why, by the end of the Old Regime, did public opinion overwhelmingly favour giving Huguenots greater rights? This study of the growth of religious toleration in Paris traces the specific history of the Huguenots after Louis XIV revoked the Edict of Nantes in 1685. David Garrioch identifies the roots of this transformation of attitudes towards the minority Huguenot population in their own methods of resistance to persecution and pragmatic government responses to it, as well as in the particular environment of Paris. Above all, this book identifies the extraordinary shift in Catholic religious culture that took place over the century as a significant cause of change, set against the backdrop of cultural and intellectual transformation that we call the Enlightenment.”

6)  Pete Seeger has died.


Hey you in the shoes, here’s your evening blogroll!

1) What can Foucault teach us about police urbanization?  http://www.opendemocracy.net/opensecurity/stephen-graham/foucault%E2%80%99s-boomerang-new-military-urbanism

For the record, I think these trends are far more open and transparent than this author credits (he uses “stealthy”), but police militarization is something that Radley Balko has written a book about, and I’m anxious to read his book on the subject.  I’m skeptical whether increases in police militarization is the result of urban movement, and more of a result of recent wars, and bloated defense budgets.  And I roll my eye a bit at the claim that the neoliberal world order is to blame for militarization trends (states are probably going to arm and seek out information regardless of the overarching worldview) but I do think Foucault can again remind us that governmentality is never too far behind, and always eager to control.  But, again, I think his Left comrades miss the point that these warnings are not limited to  right-wing or liberal regime types.  Remember, one of Foucault’s main focuses was to ask not why gulags existed, but why Marxism allowed gulags to exist.  His analysis of power cuts across all of political theory.

**Warning:  gag–inducing term “neo-liberal” is used**

2)  Another type of argument for the Universal Basic Income?: http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/01/27/andrew-coyne-raising-minimum-wage-wont-help-end-poverty-but-giving-the-poor-more-money-will/  I’m becoming more sympathetic to the idea, at least as an alternative to minimum wage.  But I’m also afraid it would bundle up with bad policies, and not replace them.

3)  Orthodox priests stand between protestors in Ukraine.  As most of the images from the country has been recently, these are quite powerful, : http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/24/kiev-protests-priests_n_4660431.html

4 ) Why did Orwell write 1984?: “I think, and have thought ever since the war began, in 1936 or thereabouts, that our cause is the better, but we have to keep on making it the better, which involves constant criticism.” http://www.openculture.com/2014/01/george-orwell-explains-in-a-revealing-1944-letter-why-hed-write-1984.html

5)  What did Frederick Douglass learn from Adam Smith?  (We can learn that abolitionists, or those associated, were more or less (classical) liberals, or associated with the larger liberal political program at the time.) http://econlog.econlib.org/archives/2014/01/frederick_dougl.html


Says, Here’s Your Afternoon Blogroll!

Buddhist family sues Louisiana parish over indoctrination :  http://jonathanturley.org/2014/01/27/louisiana-parish-sued-for-indoctrination-of-religion-by-buddhist-family/

I’m not sure why state and international actors continue to chip away at possible negotiating tactics with kidnapping and terrorist organizations (or both), but they do.  Some smart person will tell me reasons why, though.  http://globalnews.ca/news/1109552/new-un-resolution-urges-no-ransom-to-terrorists/

Looks matter in merchandising, and even with food.  Who knew?!  http://globalnews.ca/news/1109294/study-finds-aesthetics-in-food-packaging-as-important-as-brand-names/

The Monkey Cage estimates the GOP having a 44% chance to take back the Senate, except when they think it may be higher, or lower.  (variations are a mother) :  http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2014/01/27/republicans-have-a-44-chance-of-taking-the-senate-but-it-may-be-much-higher/

Football and hookers.  Okay, maybe not the hookers.  Here is the story of how cities like to sweep away outsiders as they prepare for big events.  Related, see link above about food and aesthetics:  http://reason.com/archives/2014/01/26/the-mythical-invasion-of-the-super-bowl

Story about how the GOP lost the farm due to some parts of the GOP, rightly, abandoning bad Farm Bills.  Of course the farm use to belong to the Democrats, and the rural, agrarian ancestors of the old Jeffersonian tradition.  In any event, it’s an interesting story of political shifting post 2008.  http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2014/01/how-republicans-lost-the-farm/283349/