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Showing posts from November, 2008
From a Washington Postcolumn by a former interrogator in Iraq who has a new book out about his experiences and about the multiple failings of the Bush torture model:

"I learned in Iraq that the No. 1 reason foreign fighters flocked there to fight were the abuses carried out at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo. Our policy of torture was directly and swiftly recruiting fighters for al-Qaeda in Iraq. The large majority of suicide bombings in Iraq are still carried out by these foreigners. They are also involved in most of the attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq. It's no exaggeration to say that at least half of our losses and casualties in that country have come at the hands of foreigners who joined the fray because of our program of detainee abuse. The number of U.S. soldiers who have died because of our torture policy will never be definitively known, but it is fair to say that it is close to the number of lives lost on Sept. 11, 2001. How anyone can say that torture keeps Am…
In my talk at the school about the foreign policy implications of the election back in September, I noted that neither candidate ever referred to actually diminishing the global American empire and that in most respects the core of their foreign policies were almost the same. Both, in fact, spoke of maintaining or expanding the empire, including Obama's proposed drawdown in Iraq (with its equal increase in Afghanistan, like one of those water snakes you can never quite grab). Keeping Gates at Defense is a clear signal to any and all that there will in fact be no change in the nature, extent, or aims of the American hegemonic order, even if Obama is going to bring a change in tone by closing Guantanamo and generally not being the hated and incompetent George W. Bush. There won't be 'change we can believe in' until there are some questions asked about American empire that aren't even on the table in this supposedly reformist administration (and Clinton retreads wo…
James Cobb looks at the meaning of the election for the South:

" Although the counties that were redder this year than in 2004 are home to a decided minority of the region’s people, some analysts seem to have fixated on places like Cleburne County, Alabama (total vote, 6468) and Itawamba County, Mississippi (total vote, 9265) in pouncing on the 2008 election results as evidence of the South’s ongoing marginalization in national politics and arguing that the Democrats should stop wasting their time on the region in presidential elections. In doing so they seem unable or unwilling to see that the South is no longer, and, for that matter never has been, simply Cleburne or Itawamba writ large. Although they were not necessary for an Obama victory this time, the fifty-five electoral votes the Democrats accumulated in winning Florida, North Carolina, and Virginia might well come in handy in future contests. Moreover, in Georgia where McCain’s final five point margin was much slimme…
I was interested to read that in Virginia Mexican cocaine is displacing drugs imported in the state from NYC because the Mexican coke is cheaper. What this means for possible new drug violence in Virginia I have no clue, but it is interesting that such a relatively small local market (half a million dollars) warrants the attention of international supply chains.

If Mexican cocaine is cheaper in central Virginia than NY cocaine (a nearby and robust market itself), it might lead even non-inquiring minds to consider the cascading failures of the U.S.-financed drug war in Mexico, even with its most recent enormous boost.
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It got about as cold as it gets here this past weekend, which isn't very, but is enough for there to be for-real ice on things and to feel the wind snap though the windows in my old house. This is far too early for such a cold spell here, unseasonable since it should still be in the 60s. I don't know what it means but it did make me want to put some more syrup on my bees in case this indicates a rough winter.

There was even snow, or a few flakes that the local media called snow, not really even warranting the name flurry, a tiny fluttering of nothingness, that nevertheless was enough for the Elizabeth City, NC schools to close. That is always amusing.

The cold weather also brought out the elusive pink bear, a creature best observed in our local park.






Some foreign historians of Korea are not pleased at the nationalist assertion of control over the presentation of Korean history in textbooks.

"“History is not supposed to teach pride - unless we are talking the nationalistic versions of history like the ones that dominated South Korea under the late President Park Chung Hee and still dominate North Korea,” Tikhonov said....

Cumings said the Lee Myung-bak administration is “acting like the Japanese, trying to paper over difficult issues while claiming to protect ‘national pride.’”"


This process of politicizing history is not unknown in the U.S., of course, but it tends to be a bit more subtle these days. Conflict tends to appear more often in museum exhibits (The Enola Gay exhibit comes to mind). I think perhaps the local control of textbook selection here makes the school districts so incredibly sensitive to the specific attitudes of locals that not too many controversies arise. The textbook manufacturers run off the same …
People happen on this blog of any number of reasons, most of them probably best described as "by accident" or

But this is a winning draw: a google search from Rapid City, South Dakota for: "uses for buffalo eyeballs".

The record will reflect that Nunal can officially only think of three uses of buffalo eyeballs.
This will only be on interest to academic readers:

I happened on this University of Chicago blog detailing various faculty grants and fellowships. Helpful clearinghouse, especially should you possibly be at an institution with a less robust grant pursuing culture.

Yes, it is interesting that they use a blog to post this information, though it is not surprising.
Today there were a couple of interesting news items about Korean food from different ends of the power spectrum. It's never been easy to separate food and power, and this juxtaposition is interesting.

Despite the enormous protests and contentiousness of last spring and summer, now Korea is the largest importer of American beef by value. That is from zero to 16,642 tons worth $89.2 million a month. This isn't really a surprise, since the U.S.-Korea beef agreement was designed to unless the floodgates of U.S. beef, but it must be really disenchanting for the protesters who did so much and yet stopped so little. Mexico, that well known recipient of the blessings of unalloyed free trade, imports slightly more (if you can call 2000 tons more of meat "slightly more") but Korea is gobbling it down at astonishing rates. They are, for example, already eating 10,000 more tons of American beef than of the delicious, grass-fed Australian beef that was so clearly and lovingly …
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A rainy and windy day is a good day to sit inside and read a book. Lark had that very idea today, though in typical fashion she decided to read ALL of the books she could reach, at the same time.

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So, somehow I have come into possession of a tuba. I may have been possessed during this possession, since not a whole lot of rational thought went into it, but nevertheless this tuba is mine. All mine.



A bit of searching reveals that this Marceau tuba was built in Czechoslovakia and marketed by a French company (hence the name) and, even more interesting to me, sold in the Sears Catalog circa 1900. I happen to have a copy of the 1908 Sears catalog (no surprise), and so looked it up and sure enough, there it is, the nickel plated Eb 15" bell Contrabass:



I had no idea it was in E flat when I bought it. Truthfully, I didn't even know horns came in different keys. Or that an E flat European tuba is hard to find a mouthpiece for since they have smaller shanks. I probably should have gotten a Bb since that is my preferred singing key. Then again, it's likely I won't be singing too much while playing the tuba, know what I mean?

So Eb it is. For now I am using a tromb…
It is always good to be reminded how limitless ones vistas are, especially in my profession since students often talk to me about the future. I generally think of and discuss the usual array of possible career options: secondary school teaching, grad school, law school, norteƱo musician, commercial beekeeping.

I am thinking this because I just discovered that a friend of mine has a business that I can honestly say I never had imagined: "therapeutic massage for the equine and canine athlete or couch potato".

If any Nunal readers in California are looking for these services, look no more!
I am really happy to see that the ever-interesting Kal Raustiala has posted the introduction of his forthcoming book: Does the Constitution Follow the Flag? Territoriality and Extraterritoriality in American Law, (Oxford University Press, 2009) on SSRN

This topic obviously interests me a great deal since I am writing my own book on the subject, though with a different emphasis on the relationship of law and policy in terms of American empire, and a tighter focus on the late nineteenth century. I have read Raustiala's work on territoriality and legal spatiality and have learned a great deal from it, so I am really looking forward to this book.
You'll be able to read my review of Fruitless Fall: The Collapse of the Honey Bee and the Coming Agricultural Crisis shortly, until then this interview with the author is worth reading:

"A recent study of pesticide residues in beehives found 43 different pesticides present, with neonicotinoids down near the bottom. So the bigger conclusion is that we have soaked our landscape in toxic chemicals, many of which can interact to form even more toxic compounds, and there is absolutely no regulation or testing of this mixing. Most beekeepers and researchers I’ve spoken with believe pesticides are one factor, working in conjunction with introduced parasites, viruses, bacteria, and fungi, and quite possibly with deteriorating living conditions for bees. (Poor quality food, too many hours on the backs of flatbeds traveling to the next pollination job, etc.) Bees could handle one or two of these stressors, but not all of them."
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In case you didn't see that county map indicating increased Republican voting between 2004 and 2008 before they took it off of the NYTimes page, here is an image of it:



This is a fascinating document that I think will be the focus of many studies. Explaining increases only in these areas in the entire country could be very instructive.

Andrew Sullivan notes dryly: "Ah, yes, Appalachia and Arkansas. Obviously concerned about marginal tax rates for those earning over $250,000 a year, I suppose."
The NYTimes has a great graphic showing which counties voted more for both parties between 2004 and 2008. (It is on the main page of the paper, I can't seem to find a specific URL). The amazing thing is that the only areas of Republican gains seem to be south Louisiana, Arkansas, and the Appalachians, especially in eastern Kentucky and Eastern Tenn. Obviously this economically marginal parts of the country share something.
Wow, this election is astounding in all ways.

Since virtually everyone is talking about the historic meaning of Obama as the first African-American president, I am not going to dwell on that specific historical marker and instead note a couple of other significant changes that are worth considering.

The complete transformation of Virginia into a Democratic state is a stunning repudiation of nasty and incompetent politics. This is the culmination of a long series of events. Gilmore will finally be put to pasture as not just because he is a hack, but because he was part of a brand of fiscally irresponsible Republicanism that first rocked the Commonwealth and then, in different but just as irresponsible hands, the federal government. Warner's win for the Senate seat marks the final embrace of centrist competence coupled with a nuanced sense of social responsibility and economic development. (Webb's win over Allen two years ago had a similar meaning, coupled with firm but resp…