Thursday, November 26, 2015

What began as tragedy, ends as farce

From Selma 1965 we come to Western Washington University 2015. WWU is apparently a hotbed of what is quaintly called "hate speech" these days, to the point where the university is embroiled in a debate about the school mascot, Victor E. Viking. Reports the student newspaper, with the more hilarious words in boldface:
The idea of changing the mascot was brought up at an Associated Students Board meeting earlier this month. Abby Ramos, the AS Vice President for Diversity, said that this conversation started in the summer to discuss changing the mascot to be a more inclusive figure.
Ramos and AS President Belina Seare received a letter from communications studies professor Michael Karlberg regarding the mascot. “I think this mascot also reflects a sort of hyper masculine, hyper violent sort of image which is doubly problematic. I think we really ought to reconsider,” Karlberg said. . . .
Senior Josie Ellison, who identifies by they/them/their pronouns, is in favor of changing the mascot. Ellison currently works in the AS Representation and Engagement Programs as the legislative advocacy coordinator, but is representing their personal views in this article. “I’m a big fan of the Western ferns because [they’re] plants and also non-violent,” they said.
The newspaper does not tell us if Professor Karlberg included a trigger warning in his letter, so that students of Norwegian descent might flee to the designated campus comfort zone before being exposed to his assault on their ancestors.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The insanity spreads to Canada

Donald Trump proposed building a wall on our northern border, too, but evidently it's too late for that. The madness at Yale, Mizzou, Dartmouth, and Smith has spread to the University of Ottawa, according to the Washington Post -

University yoga class canceled because of ‘oppression, cultural genocide’

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

What it was like to be a German, 1939-1945

The German War is an astonishing book. Nicholas Stargardt is an Oxford don, so this is a scholarly work (and priced accordingly), yet it accomplishes a seemingly impossible feat: it lays out German crimes at home and abroad, while showing the criminals not only as human beings, but as men and women who in many cases deserve our sympathy. These are "Hitler's willing executioners," in the memorable words of Daniel Goldhagen, the citizens and soldiers who did much of the dirty work of the Third Reich. "A deep shame is growing," one landser wrote to his wife while guarding Russian prisoners in conditions that would kill them. (Maria would learn the details from his diary, brought home to her by one of the comrades after he himself was killed in December 1941.) Based largely on such diaries and letters, along with newspaper accounts and the reports of the security police, all beautifully woven into the story of the disaster as it unfolded from 1939 to 1945.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A hidden feature of Windows 10

Well, this morning I decided to prepare for next month's ski trip by checking out my laptop. Good thing I did! It couldn't connect to the internet. How baroque is that? So I turned to the desktop and Googled the problem. It seems to be a known feature of Windows 10, which I installed a few weeks ago, luckily within the 30-day rollback period. Now I'm running Windows 7 again -- and connected to the internet. Glad I didn't discover this feature in the airport!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Return of the GWOT

For eight years or more, the Good People have been denying that there was any such thing as a Global War on Terror, or indeed that it is even possible to battle terror. ("Terrorism is a tactic. You can't fight  a tactic!") But today I woke up the hear the Pope declare the Paris bloodshed is part of a Third World War, while Barack Obama vows that "we stand together with [the French] in the fight against terrorism and extremism." All of which sounds very much like a GWOT to me! After eight years, troop withdrawals, resets, and the expenditure of blood and billions, has anything really changed since 2008?

Donald Rumsfeld famously said that "you go to war with the army you have." While the Good People gasp at bombs exploded outside soccer stadiums and AK-47s fired into restaurants, they altogether overlook that the army of Islamic State is precisely that: its suicide bombers and random assassins. Did France expect to have its heartland untouched, when French fighter-bombers attack Islamic State in the field? Absent any fighter-bombers of its own, Islamic State is going to deploy the army it has. There will be more, and probably not in France alone. British, Danish, Dutch, Belgian, and American cities must also be on the target list.

Monday, November 09, 2015

Burma is free at last (or so one can hope!)

Congratulations to Aung San Suu Kyi (or "Ms Suu Kyi," as she's called in the West) for her party's apparent landslide victory in Burma. The celebration has to be a bit muted, unfortunately. In the run-up to the election, this lovely symbol of Burma's freedom remarked that she would "be above the president" in the future government. In a century that has witnessed Hugo Chavez, Vladimir Putin, and various other presidents-for-life, it's not a good omen.

About the presidency: the generals long ago added the constitutional requirement that the presidential family have no taint of foreign blood. Aung San Suu Kyi was married to an Englishman, and her children were therefore citizens of the UK, so she was neatly barred from holding the country's highest office. A constitution can of course be changed, and I hope it is, but it shouldn't be ignored.

And about those names: the Burmese don't have family names, so the lady is Aung San Suu Kyi or, more familiarly, Daw Suu. And the nation was renamed in 1989 by the military dictatorship as the Republic of the Union of Maynmar. "The renaming remains a contested issue," as Wikipedia graciously says. If the new government confirms the change, well and good -- but I hope it doesn't!

Friday, November 06, 2015

Iran warms up to the United States

Like the earlier one with Russia, the reset with Iran has worked out pretty much as expected. The U.S. will lift sanctions and let Iran proceed on its path to developing nukes, while Iran will fund terrorists, test ballistic missiles, arrest American citizens, and burn the flag. Clearly, the arc of history is bending our way.