Thursday, March 31, 2005
Warding off the dark lords of dark chocolate
Apparently, the dark chocolate Twix is part of a larger trend. Julie Scelfo explains in Newsweek:
As a lifelong dark chocolate afficionado, I fear this to be a bad, bad, bad, bad, delicious trend. The dearth of dark chocolate opportunities has to date been an effective constraint on excessive chocolate consumption. The proliferation of dark chocolate "microbrews" could overwhelm my feeble abstinence instinct -- this is the candy equivalent of Salma Hayek showing up on my doorstep wearing nothing but a terrycloth robe and asking for a foot massage.
My only viable strategy might be to insist on consuming only very gourmet chocolates. [You could just exercise more and eat less. Or you could be like Virginia Postrel and eat more spinach--ed. No one likes it when you act like a rational editor.]
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
The decline of Harvard and the return of COFHE
Between my junior and senior years at Williams College, I was an intern for the Office of the Provost. It was there I found out about the Consortium for Financing Higher Education (COFHE), a little-known organization of elite schools that pooled data on admissions, tuition, and the like. When I was working there, COFHE was twitchy about being subject to antitrust investigations, but that died down in the late eighties. As the COFHE website suggests, this is an organization that doesn't really like to advertise its existence.
I hadn't thought about COFHE for at least a decade -- until I saw this Boston Globe story by Marcella Bombardieri:
I'm dying to know where the University of Chicago came out in those rakings. If the U of C -- a place at which the logo "Where Fun Comes to Die" appears on many a t-shirt -- ranks higher than Harvard in terms of satisfaction, then Harvard really has some catching up to do.
As the Sciavo commentary descends into silliness....
In recent decades, the appearance of Jesse Jackson has been a useful leading indicator of a political issue degenerating into complete silliness.
In this case, however, the conclusive signal about the sheer idiocy of most of the Schiavo commentary comes from today's Chicago Tribune op-ed page. In it, David Martin publishes his living will, which includes the following:
OK, this is pretty much the kind of thing I predicted would happen, but let's skip that.
What got me was Martin's byline: "David Martin is a lawyer who lives in Ottawa, Canada."
Now, whilethe U.S., Canada, and Mexico have recently pledged greater security and economic integration, I'm still pretty sure that no one living in Ottawa, Canada really has to worry about a Schiavo-type scenario happening.
[C'mon, wasn't Martin just being a smart-ass -- a type of behavior with which you're familiar?--ed. Yes, but to be a good smart-ass one must have the comedy equivalent of legal standing -- and Martin doesn't.]
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
Bill James and I, two peas in a pod
Given James's long advocacy of using statistical techniques to gauge the value of baseball players, he provides a surprising response to the question of why Boston was able to overcome it's 0-3 deficit against the Yankees in the American League Championship Series:
James's complete answer is interesting to baseball fans, but I kept returning to that bolded section and unconsciously nodding my head.
Monday, March 28, 2005
Republicans and their discontents
Via Glenn Reynolds, I see that over at Daily Pundit, Bill Quick has eleven laments about the current incarnation of the Republican party. Go check them out. I don't agree with all of them, but obviously I agree with enough of them to post about it. The third one -- "The deadly combination of establishing huge new permanent expenditures while at the same time cutting taxes, thereby guaranteeing massive new debt for future taxpayers" is the one that really kills me.
Quick closes as follows:
Quick makes an intriguing parallel -- but I'm unconvinced that, judging by either electoral or ideational outcomes, the growth of the left blogosphere and other Internet sites has been particularly beneficial for the Democratic party. These groups' biggest successes have been: a) increased voter turnout in November 2004; and b) ensuring a solid Democratic bloc to prevent Social Security reform. Against those successes, the Dean self-immolation, the electoral losses in November, and the party line demanding an exit option from Iraq ASAP count as failures.
I agree with Quick on the substance, but even as a blogger I'm not convinced the process would be beneficial
The Bush administration and the fourth wave
Dexter Filkins in the New York Times and Henry Farrell at Crooked Timber make useful points about the precise relationship between U.S. foreign policy, international organizations, and the nascent fourth wave of democratization. This leads to an intriguing policy proposal, but let's put that aside until the end of the post.
Filkins asks whether the elections in Iraq triggered the demonstration of people power in Lebanon and concludes in the negative. He observes that Lebanon's political culture was far more democratic for a far longer time than Iraq's. However, this does not mean that U.S. foreign policy is irrelevant:
Farrell links to a Financial Times story by Stefan Wagstyl that points out the regional (i.e., post-Soviet) nature of these revolutions. Farrell acknowledges that, "US policy has had some indirect effects – the US support for regime change in Georgia has probably had unanticipated consequences as Georgia became an example of change for other countries in the post-Soviet space."
Farrell, however, then goes on to observe the useful role that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe has played in the post-Soviet space:
Farrell is correct that the OSCE's geographical remit is bounded. However, I'm not sure his general point stands. The fact is that most countries in the world -- including many in the Arab Middle East -- try to maintain the minimal trappings of democracy, precisely because of its normative power. So that condition is met.
The problem is finding an international organization that has legitimacy and respect within the Middle East that has both the willingness and the opportunity to engage in election monitoring and concomitant activities.
Hey, wait a minute -- how about the United Nations??!! As some of you may recall, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan does want to reform the U.N., and claimed in a report that, "The United Nations does more than any other single organization to promote and strengthen democratic institutions and practices around the world, but this fact is little known." OK, as I said before, that line is pure horses**t, but that doesn't mean it must always be so. The U.N. has some genuine street cred in the Arab parts of the world. Having the U.N. play the role of the OSCE in the Middle East is not as crazy as it first sounds.
Arch-conservatives might be skeptical of the U.N.'s ability to do any good whatsoever, a concern that has some merit. But pushing for the U.N. to take a greater role in election monitoring is precisely the kind of proposal that would resonate with big-government conservatism and perhaps even neoconservatism.
Just a thought.
Sunday, March 27, 2005
The convenient out of "national dialogue "
Richard Clarke recently started a column in the New York Times Magazine on national security issues. His latest effort, on Iran, is a bit frustrating, but I'm on the fence about whether this the fault lies with Clarke or his word count.
Clarke spends the bulk of the article arguing that the invasion of Iraq has served Iran's national interest even better that Amercan interests, and argues that hoping for democratization to overwhelm Iran's mullahs would be foolish. He also takes potshots as the administration's recent decisions to recognize Hezbollah as a political party in Lebanon and allow the EU to take the (temporary) lead on nuclear talks.
With that, here's how Clarke closes:
Clarke was the NSC Director for Counterterrorism for more than a decade. He's just spent 500 words shredding the administration's menu of Iran policy options. One would think that this would be the right moment for Clarke, a genuine expert on this question, to introduce his own thoughts on the matter. Instead, we get a "national dialogue" cop-out. That's a close second behind "mobilize political willpower" on the list of Grand and Meaningless Policy Proposals. It's particularly odd with regard to Iran, since national dialogues about foreign policy tend to be limited to questions of grand strategy or imminent war.
It's possible that Clarke is fresh out of constructive ideas on this subject. To give him the benefit of the doubt, however, it's also possible that a 700-word limit on his column prevents a fuller explication of his thoughts. My money is on the former -- a savvy columnist would have put in a teaser for a future column devoted solely to this topic -- but I'll give him some benefit of the doubt and see what emerges in future columns.
Right profession, wrong stage of life
Warren St. John and Alex Williams have a good article in the New York Times Style section about sleep patterns and the character taits that are often incorrectly derived from them. Among the interesting facts:
The sleep schedule is certainly one reason why I gravitated towards academia (and blogging, I suppose -- it's a partially nocturnal event). That said, one of the first internal indications I had that I wanted to marry Erika was that I shifted my grad student work habits from a 7PM-2 AM cycle to a 9-5 schedule without complaint.
Unfortunately, the article fails to address the biggest challenge to late-sleepers. It's not the job, it's the children. Any hope of sleeping in for the next decade is pretty much shot to hell.
The advantages for the children are overwhelming, of course -- but that doesn't mean I don't miss the halcyon andbygone era of getting up past ten o'clock in the AM.
Saturday, March 26, 2005
Let's get something clear..
I was remiss before, but it's worth quoting the salient parts of this Tyler Cowen post:
And for those who think this is merely an example of the United States "outsourcing" torture to other countries, consider the following Los Angeles Times story by Mark Mazzetti: (which is not about torture per se, but certainly an exanple of what happens when torture is condoned):
Despite the report, the Army does not plan on prosecuting anyone named.
Here's a thought -- with the Iraqi insurgency looking for an exit option, and with it becoming increasingly clear who's running foreign policy nowadays, perhaps this would be a good time to ease out the guy responsible for this cancer on the military?
Friday, March 25, 2005
Another day, another vulnerable ex-Soviet republic
If there were an award for Most Quiescent ex-Soviet Population, Belarus would probably just squeak by Turkmenistan for the trophy. Belarusian president Aleksandr Lukashenko rules with an iron fist, but in the past most Belarusians have just shrugged their shoulders in coping with their dictator.
Here's a photo:
Pravda notes wryly that the demonstration took place, "just as the government criticized Kyrgyzstan's opposition for the seizure of power there.... The Belarusian Foreign Ministry on Friday harshly assailed the Kyrgyz opposition, warning that its action could destabilize the entire region. 'The unconstitutional overthrow of the government in Kyrgyzstan could have fatal consequences for peace, stability and prosperity in the country, as well as in the Central Asian region as a whole,' it said."
The cautionary note comes from the Reuters report:
That assessment seems true to me -- but then again, I didn't think the Ukrainians were going to rise up a few months ago.
The key difference is that, as today's events demonstrate, Lukashenko will have no problem whatsoever with using all the coercive tools at his disposal to stay in power.
Developing -- the fourth wave, that is.....
The universality of inane Internet chatter
Hamish McDonald reports in the Sydney Morning Herald that the Internet afford people the opportunity to make jackasses out of themselves no matter how old the civilization. To be specific, not all Chinese reacted well to Condi Rice's recent trip to Asia:
Read the whole thing -- not for more quotes like this, but to see how the Chinese leadership has had a bad foreign policy stretch as of late.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
The fourth wave of democratization?
Events in Kyrgyzstan (click here for a useful BBC backgrounder), combined with previous events in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Ukraine, Afghanistan and Georgia, are making me wonder if maybe, just maybe, we're at the beginning of the fourth wave of democratization. In his book The Third Wave, Samuel Huntingtion observed that previous moments of democratic regime change took place in clusters. The first (small) wave was in the early 1800's, the second took place immediately after the Second World War, and the third wave started in Southern Europe in 1974 and ended with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.
All waves of democratization are followed by counter-waves, which happened in the mid-to-late nineties, with authoritarian and semi-authoritarian regimes emerging in a lot of the post-Soviet states. However, the exogenous shock of 9/11, the Rose Revolution in Georgia, and the strong rhetoric of the Bush administration on this front has combined to trigger some serious political change across the Eurasian land mass.
The Kyrgyz example is likely to send chills down the spine of two much larger countries -- Russia and China. In Moscow, Vladimir Putin can't be thrilled with the fact that he can't have a tea break without some country in his near abroad overthrowing a ruler that was on decent terms with Putin. The fact that ousted Kyrgyz President Askar Akaev is reportedly fleeing to Russia will highlight this painful fact.
As for China, Beijing's first preference is not to have a democratic revolution take place in Central Asia so close to Xinjiang -- China's western-most province with plenty of restive Uighurs chafing at Beijing's control. [UPDATE: In somewhat unrelated news, China is also feeling international pressure from it's ham-handed efforts to presure Taiwan.]
Let's be clear -- there's a fair amount of fragility in this nascent fourth wave: Iraq could curdle, Kyrgyzstan could descend into chaos, Hamas could win Palestinian elections, and Lebanon could be split by sectarian strife. The Bush administration's actions may not match their rhetoric. Writing in the International Herald-Tribune, Aaron David Miller points out the resiliency of Arab dictatorships:
Then again, as Michael Doran points out in Foreign Affairs online, this whole Palestine-as-pivot-root-causes theory of change in the Middle East just might be hokum:
UPDATE: Also be sure to check out Stephen A. Cook's essay in the March/April 2005 issue of Foreign Affairs on how to promote political reform in the Arab Middle East. The abstract:
Noam Chomsky, egomaniacal liar
Via Alina Stefanescu (who has a blog that's worth checking out), I stumbled across this Sunday Herald column by Alan Taylor on Noam Chomsky. The most absurd bits:
I'm not sure what Barsky and Chomsky are smoking, but my information about the latter's flirtation with totalitarian, oppressive, exclusionary movements comes from several sources. Click here and here to read about Chomsky's errors of omission and comission with regard to the Khmer Rouge. Click here to read about Chomsky's bizarre theory of why the U.S. supported the Bosnian Muslims. And then there's Stefan Kanfer's takedown of Chomsky from the Summer 2002 City Journal:
So how's Iraqification going, part II
As a follow-up to my previous post on the question of transfering police and security functions to Iraqis, it's worth linking and quoting from Spencer Ackerman's Iraq'd blog. Ackerman -- hardly a fan of the administration's Iraq policy in the past -- was a huge fan of the raid on foreign insurgents that took place yesterday.
Why is Ackerman in such a good mood about this raid?:
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Random Schiavo thought
As the Terry Schiavo case wends its way through the federal court system, there's a thought that keeps nagging at me. Ostensibly, the motivation behind the congressional and presidential decision to intervene was to preserve and broaden the "culture of life," to use the term of art. The March 17th presidential statement essentially makes this argument:
This is my nagging thought -- could it be possible that making a federal case out of Terry Schiavo actually shrinks the culture of life? I wonder after reading this Chicago Tribune story by Bonnie Miller Rubin:
Neither of these news stories is definitive. However, if this case has prompted a marked increase in the number of people specifying when they do not want heroic measures used to extend their biological life, then by their actions the Bush administration and both houses of Congress will have retarded rather than extended the culture of life.
Just a thought.
UPDATE: Many comentators, commenters and e-mailers have pointed out that feeding and hydration tubes are not normally thought of as "heroic measures" -- which is true but only underscores my point. If it turns out that the Schiavo case triggers a backlash among most Americans, more people might codify living wills or other legal documents that go beyond the denial of DNRs and heroic measures, and ban additional treatments that are accepted within the medical profession as routine and justifiable.
FINAL UPDATE: This post was inspired in part by the ABC poll showing hostility to federal intervention in this matter. Mickey Kaus provides an excellent collection of links suggesting that the poll question was improperly framed. However, Mystery Pollster disagrees and points to additional polling that reinforces my original point.
Tuesday, March 22, 2005
Kofi Annan's publicist can't be happy
On Monday, Kofi Annan "urged world leaders Monday to implement the boldest changes to the United Nations in its 60-year history" according to the Associated Press. You can see for yourself by clicking on “In Larger Freedom: towards development, security and human rights for all.” On the plus side, it seems that Annan recognizes that the U.N. Human Rights Commission is a joke and wants to genuinely reform it.
On the other hand, Annan also says in one section of the report (paragraph #151) that, "The United Nations does more than any other single organization to promote and strengthen democratic institutions and practices around the world, but this fact is little known." To which I must reply, "BWA HA HA HA HA!!! " [Which single organization does more, smart guy?--ed. Well, there's NATO and the European Union for starters -- and before I got even close to the combined set of UN agencies, I'd throw in Mercosur, the Organization of American States, and even the World Trade Organization. To be charitable, I'll give the UN agencies a slight edge over ASEAN, but that's about it.]
However, regardless of the intrinsic merits of Annan's proposal, I'm thinking that this Financial Times story by Claudio Gatti might throw a monkey wrench into generating any policy momentum:
Glenn Reynolds has more links that will cause headaches for Annan's publicist.
Liveblogging the Brookings event
Click here to watch the live webcast of the Brookings Institution panel, "The Impact of the New Media." I'll be liveblogging this event, and to make life easier for the Brookings tech people, newer comments will be higher than the older ones. UPDATE: Now that it's over, I actually prefer doing it with newer comments below rather than above, so I've reconfigured it.
Let the liveblogging.... begin!!!
9:40 AM: OK, let's see.... coffee in mug, pajamas on body [He's liveblogging from home, thank you very much!!--ed.], editor now locked in closet [Mmmmmph!--ed.], earphones plugged in and on head to better hear the webcast, and a feeling of eager excitement that I've beaten my fellow livebloggers to the first post.... yes, yes, I believe I offically am a complete dweeb.
Still fifteen minutes to the Brooking panel itself... there needs to be a word for that soft murmur of voices that precedes any C-SPAN-like event. Readers are encouraged to post posibilities. 9:55 AM: A danieldrezner.com exclusive -- MUST CREDIT DANIELDREZNER.COM. Ana Marie Cox has chosen the teal shirt for today. That's teal, people. UPDATE: I'm informed that it's green... must be the camera.
10:02 AM: What, they haven't started yet? This would never happen at a University of Chicago faculty meeting!!!
10:07 AM: Let the games begin!!
10:10 AM: Interesting... Dionne points out that Atrios, Kos, Marshall, and Yglesias were invited to live-blog as well but declined... one wonders if this ties into this paper's observation that liberals are also less likely to link to each other. [UPDATE: to be fair, Marshall had a very important engagement this weekend.] Dionne also tries to roil waters by characterizing bloggers as "parasitic" on mainstream media. I prefer the word "symbiotic."
10:15 AM: So Cox is high on Robitussin... again. "Do bloggers make mistakes?" Cox says (paraphrasing), "Duh, yes, but since blogs aren't really a primary source of news, it's not as catastrophic as the MSM believes." Which is true -- but another difference is that bloggers can quickly correct factual errors.
10:20 AM: Shafer approvingly cites Jay Rosen's characterization of blogs as "distributed journalism."
10:23 AM: Jodie T. Allen confesses to being a "web addict"; earlier Shafer states that many journalists Technorati themselves to see who's commenting on their writings.
10:27 AM: Allen makes a shrewd point about the faltering economic model of newspapers... and it's not just bloggers that are threatening them. She frets about the closing of overseas bureaus, which could lead to a decline in factual reporting, because "opinions are a lot cheaper than facts." However, here's the thing -- bloggers often function as superb stringers. The tsunami disaster allowed many bloggers to provide on-the-spot reporting from a breaking news event. Of more concern is whether bloggers would be able to match reporters in reporting on, say, opaque givernments.
10:30 AM: "Blogging is traditional; podcasting is new media" Sigh.... Mickey Kaus is right--we've jumped the shark.
10:31 AM: Dionne is weirdly.... sexy when he reads AndrewSullivan.com. Not that there's anything wrong with that!!
10:32 AM: Hmmm..... Sullivan has the sniffles, Ana Marie Cox has the sniffles.... no, let's not go there.
10:34 AM: Ah, real news -- Sullivan says that as he grew more critical of the administration, his fundraising drives produced lower yields -- from $80,000 to $20,000 to $12,000. This is something I'd like to see the panelists discuss -- to what extent will the lure of large sums of money (by blogger standards) act as an ideological straight-jacket for prominent bloggers?
10:38 AM: You know Internet journalism is getting old when Shafer and Sullivan reminisce about the good old days of... 1996.
10:40 AM: Sullivan makes a key point -- for bloggers to be effective, they must be "pariahs." The fact is, the medisphere can be a clubby place, both within itself and between reporters and politicos. Will bloggers get sucked into this vortex as well?
10:41 AM: Cox uses the phrase "circle jerk" at Brookings.... somewhere, Richard Nixon's ghost is wondering why he ever thought of firebombing the place.
10:43 AM: Hey, E.J.!! The problem with Kos was not that he raised money for Dems, it was that he took money for consulting for Dems as well..... though I do believe this particular kerfuffle was overblown, since he admitted this from day one.
10:48 AM: "People are still fact-oriented," according to Allen -- even among Deaniacs.
10:50 AM: FYI, here are the specific links to other livebloggers: Ruy Teixeira, Ed Morrissey, and Laura Rozen; Trevino and Cole appear to be MIA. UPDATE: Here's Cole's post -- Trevino never bothered to post.
10:52: Someone who works for the Center for Public Integrity says that many blogs promote slander and libel.,.. as opposed to the Center for Public Integrity, which never issues misleading press releases. Seriously, Shafer and Cox shoot this down pretty effectively -- because there are costs to royally screwing things up.
10:58 AM: Dionne points out that blogs can foster the spread of rumor and slander faster than traditional media... except that blogs also make this spread much more transparent. The counterfactual is not just traditional media, but the spread of urban legends via private e-mails and listservers. The best example of this was the claim that the exit polls were correct and Kerry really won the election. Without blogs and other Internet media, this rumor would have just festered -- because of blogs, these accusations got quickly aired and quickly falsified.
11:00 AM: Sullivan points out that bloggers are much harsher to each other than to any public figure -- I have no idea what he's talking about. UPDATE: Dionne mentions this comment -- I am so inside the Beltway right now. Now I have to go and buy one of those Blackberry thingmabobs.
11:02 AM: Props to the guy who called the comments section of blogs a "cacophony of crap" -- you know he'd been up all night honing that phrase. Seriously, I do think there's a scaling problem with comments section -- the bigger the blog, the greater the percentage of crap. Fortunately, I don't have to worry about this.
11:07: What does it say that I'm an avid blog-readers and writer, but any discussion of talk radio and the fairness doctrine puts me to sleep? In other news, it appears to be standing room only in the room. And let's have a shout-out to those twentysomething interns who have to get those mikes to the people in the room!!
11:11 AM: Sullivan said, "hetero".... heh.
11:15 AM: Cox thinks it's useless to distinguish between "media" and "journalism." I'd rephrase -- there is a difference between
11:18 AM: Sullivan thinks there should be no schools for journalists, and that the "interns of the future" are those who are writing blogs in college. Matthew Yglesias has no idea what Sullivan's talking about.
11:24 AM: Ratner is harping on the economics of journalism, and asking whether bloggers will reduce the ability of media institutions to invest in reporting. I understand ratner's concern, but it seems to me this applies more to investigative journalism than most other sections of the media. For example, does journalism really have a comparative advantage over an expert blogger when a think tank or a research institute, for example, issues a press release?
11:27 AM: Sullivan points out that bloggers provide hyperlinked footnotes, which the New York Times op-ed page does not.
11;28 AM: A questioner asks what happens if a blogger receives an e-mail informing them that they're wrong? In my case it depends on whether the e-mailer has their facts correct as well. I've found that about two-thirds of the time the dispute is more over my interpretation of facts rather than the facts themselves. The others -- hell, yes, I'll post a correction. I'm not thrilled about it, but it's happened enough so that I'm used to it.
11:30 AM: Sullivan says blogs are a new form of literature. Great -- I want my own Pulitzer Prize now, dammit!!
11:33 AM: Sullivan has blog insurance??!!!
11:34 AM: Click here to see Ryan Sager's New York Post column discussing the Pew sponsorship of research into campaign finance reform that the panelists are discussing. Key section:
On the first point, I do think that bloggers serve two useful purposes -- a barometer of public opinion, and an opportunity to discuss specific issues raised by this case -- the legal and medical questions.
On the second point, I'm working on a large post which I'll inflict on people later in the week.
11:51 AM: Ruy has the best one-sentence summary of the event: "an interesting but not cutting-edge event."
11:54 AM: On the role of blogs elsewhere, do be sure to check out my Foreign Policy essay with Henry Farrell, "Web of Influence." Sullivan is correct that blogs can be a subversive tool in repressive societies -- but authoritarian governments are learning how to respond with brutal but appallingly effective tactics (link via Glenn Reynolds)
11:56 AM: Allen says opinion journalism are like "thumb-sucking," and that women don't like the taste of their thumbs. Must.... resist.... savage mockery of metaphor.
11:58 AM: Dionne gets the first Nazi reference in -- and after an hour and fift-eight minutes of discusion about blogs. That has to be a record for the longest period of time before Godwin's Law kicks in.
12:03 PM: Ana Marie Cox bravely calls for a moratorium of panels on blogs.... oh, sure, now that she's hit her premier frequent-flyer status via blog conferences, she wants to shut down the ravy train.
12:06 PM: That's a wrap.... and thank God, because I desperately need to go to the bathroom.
Monday, March 21, 2005
How I'm spending tomorrow morning
What better way to spend a Tuesday morning (10-12 Eastern time) that to liveblog a Brookings Institution panel!!
[Was that, like, a real question or a rhetorical one? Because with the right person, I can think of an infinite combination of activities that might be superior--ed. It was a rhetorical question.]
The panelists include Jodie T. Allen (Senior Editor, Pew Research Center), Ana Marie Cox (Wonkette.com), Ellen Ratner (White House Correspondent, Talk Radio News Service), Jack Shafer (Editor-at-Large, Slate), and Andrew Sullivan
Be sure to tune in tomorrow.
UPDATE: My live-blogging post is here.
So how's Iraqification going?
Derrick Jackson argued in the Boston Globe last Friday that the U.S. has no exit strategy for Iraq and this is costing us allies:
Sounds like Iraqification is not going well. However, two press reports from inside Iraq suggest that in fact progress has been made. John F. Burns reports in the New York Times that the transfer of duties from the U.S. military to Iraqi security forces has helped in one Baghdad neighborhood:
Meanwhile, Time's Christopher Allbriton reports on the growing professionalism of The Iraqi Special Forces Brigade (ISOF):
At this rate, the departure of other coalition country forces from Iraq is less a sign of failed American leadership than a sign that they can hand over their duties to the Iraqis themselves. Everyone agrees that this is the best possible exit option.
Open Schiavo thread
Feel free to comment here on the federal government's decision to intervene in the Terry Schiavo case. I was paying zero attention to this until I read the AP story this morning. My first response to it is identical to Orin Kerr's:
Andrew Sullivan raises a valid point about what this means for modern-day conservatism:
Comment away!!! As Mickey Kaus says, "Our society is going to have to have this out at some point--why not now?"
Saturday, March 19, 2005
It's always nice to have a traveling secretary
As I've said before, Colin Powell's biggest failing as Secretary of State was that he didn't leave Washington, DC all that much. Which is kind of important for America's chief diplomat.
In Time, Elaine Shannon reports that Condi Rice seems to have grasped the importance of getting outside the Beltway:
UPDATE: Time has a follow-up story in this week's issue that offers the contrast between Rice and Powell:
Friday, March 18, 2005
George Kennan, R.I.P. (1904-2005)
George Kennan, the first director of policy planning for the State Department, is dead at the age of 101. The New York Times obit by Tim Weiner and Barbara Crossette has more detail and background, but the Washington Post obit by J.Y. Smith has a paragraph that best captures Kennan's love-hate relationship with the U.S. foreign policy establishment:
Kennan will forever be known as the author of the Long Telegram in 1946, the most famous State Department cable in history. Kennan later converted the telegram into a 1947 Foreign Affairs essay entitled, "The Sources of Soviet Conduct," which brought forth the doctrine of containment.
It is a grand irony of international relations theory that although the realist theory of international relations seemed to predict a strategy of containment, Kennan derived this doctrine from a domestic level analysis of the Soviet Union. Realism as it is currently understood derives most of it's causal power from the systemic level -- i.e., the world is anarchic and the distribuion of power among states powerfully affects the behavior of individual governments. However, Kennan argued that to understand Soviet behavior, one hand to understand the ever-present domestic legitimacy crisis of the Soviet government:
The initial domestic insecurity of the Soviet elite made them see external societies that thrived on alternative sets of political, economic, and social principles as an existential threat -- a fact that's worth remembering when contemplating what radical Islamsts want.
In terms of U.S. foreign policy, however, the most cited paragraphs in "The Sources of Soviet Conduct" are these:
Kennan is proof that the author often loses control of his words the moment they are printed. The Times obit quotes Kennan in his memoirs as saying that the language on containment, "was at best ambiguous and lent itself to misinterpretation." Indeed, the most fully developed articulation of the containment doctrine, Paul Nitze's NSC-68, differed in significant ways from Kennan's own views. Kennan barely supported the Korean War and opposed the Vietnam War.
Even when his writing was clear, Kennan's foreign policy vision was not always 20/20. He opposed NATO expansion in the nineties, convinced it would have disastrous consequences. When he was in power, he bitterly railed against congressional influence over foreign affairs, and then changed his tune later in life. Kennan never gave a flying fig about the developing world, believing that it never would develop. Kennan's narrow world vision consisted only of the five centers of industrial activity -- the US, USSR, Germany, Great Britain, and Japan. By the early nineties, when he wrote Around the Cragged Hill, he clearly believed the U.S. to be doomed to decline and devoid of "intelligent and discriminating administration." And the less said about Kennan's view of non-WASPs, the better.
Nevertheless, Kennan achieved something all too rare in the world of ideas -- he came up with a very big idea at a crucial moment in history that was simultaneously influential and correct. His doctrine of containment proved to be a useful and ultimately successful framework to guide U.S. foreign policy during the bipolar era. Varioius administrations committed various blunders in the name of containment, but a lot more good than harm was done to honor Kennan's idea. Fifteen years after the Cold War ended, we are still searching for the big idea to replace Kennan.
In honor of Kennan, his alma mater started up The Princeton Project on National Security -- "a nonpartisan effort to strengthen and update the intellectual underpinnings of U.S. national security strategy." Seven working groups have been formed to advance the project (I'm on one of them) -- probably close to a hundred top-flight thinkers.
Combined, if we're very, very, very lucky, we might come up with something half as smart as Kennan.
UPDATE: David Adesnik has a long post on Kennan's aversion to democracy promotion. However, with all due respect, I disagree with Adesnik's characterization of Kennan as a realist. Realists simply do not care about the regime type of any country. Kennan was worse than that -- his antipathy to democracy was pretty much universal. He deplored its effects on U.S. foreign policy, and as Adesnik points out he believed that most countries of the world "weren't ready for democracy." More so than the realists, Kennan thought that domestic politics mattered -- but his natural conservatism led him to dismiss the notion that regime transitions were either possible or desirable in the developing world.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Be sure to check out this special Foreign Affairs web page devoted to Kennan -- by my count, he wrote more than fifteen essays for that journal.
Thursday, March 17, 2005
Uh.... I was talking about trade, right?
While trade is the subject of the day, it's worth pointing out that Tim Wu has a provocative story in Slate on an intriguing mechanism through which the United States could be forced to legalize marijuana: the World Trade Organization:
Read the whole thing -- the analysis is not completely far-fetched. Wu's biggest reach is his claim that "it may just be a matter of time" before another country will request a WTO panel. Yes, some countries have legalized marijuana, but I find it hard to conceive of a country pushing for the ability to export any narcotic that retains a moral stigma across the globe. A lot more countries would need to legalize Mr. Jay before this happens.
UPDATE: Jacob Levy emerges from seclusion to point out a more serious flaw in Wu's reasoning.
Rob Portman has his work cut out for him
The Bush appointments just keep on coming. Reuters reports that Bush has picked his next U.S. Trade Representative:
Here's the complete text of Bush's announcement. Both the President and Rep. Portman made nice sounds on trade expansion:
[So does this mean you remain hopeful that trade will be freer?--ed. Well, I see this appointment as a good news-bad news kind of situation. The good news is that Portman is a legitimate free trader. Daniel Griswold at the Cato Institute's Center for Trade Policy Studies just published a briefing paper looking at Congressional attitudes towards trade, and Portman is categorized as a consistent free trader (his one major lapse was support for the steel tariffs).
The bad news is that, while I don't know the extent of the personal relationship between Portman and Bush,
UPDATE: Thanks to D.J. for this Capitol Hill Blue link from mid-2004 which suggests that Portman and Bush are actually pretty tight: "Among other members of Bush's brain trust are Vice President Dick Cheney; a brother, Florida Gov. Jeb Bush; longtime adviser Karen Hughes; and Ohio Rep. Rob Portman, a longtime Bush family friend.... Portman, the only alumnus of the first Bush administration serving in Congress, is actively involved in Bush's strategy in industrial battleground states like his own." So maybe my "bad news" concerns are misplaced.
I will not surrender to the dark side, I will not surrender to the dark side...
Via Ross Douthat, I see the latest trailer for Star Wars III, Revenge of the Sith is out. Last fall, I confess I found the teaser trailer to be very seductive, so I was worried about my reaction to this one.
And I'm happy to report that I mildly disagree with both Douthat and Matthew Yglesias; the trailer is OK, but the dark side has not turned me yet. There are other popcorn movie trailers out there -- like Sin City, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, or Fantastic Four -- that have grabbed more of my attention.
Take that, Emperor Lucas!!
State vs. Defense II
The president announced his nomination of Paul Wolfowitz to be the next World Bank president. Apparently the Europeans are not happy, according to the Washington Post's Keith B. Richburg and Glenn Frankel:
For more international reaction, see this blog devoted to the topic.
My thoughts, in no particular order:
UPDATE: The Financial Times reports that European countries probably will not form a united front to oppose Wolfowitz.
Wednesday, March 16, 2005
Well this is nice
Barbara Slavin reports in USA Today that Iraqis are feeling better about Iraq:
Here's a link to the IRI press release of the poll.
Assume for the moment a best-case scenaio in which the insurgency starts to die down. Given that the National Assembly has just started to meet, don't be surprised if that satisfaction figure were to go down. This is the funny thing about democracy -- one people get it, their dissatisfaction from seeing the process up close seems to increase.
Eventually, most people adopt the Churchillian posture: democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.
Outsourcing as an economic experiment
One of my favorite economics articles of all time is by Nathan Rosenberg, "Economic Experiments." Industrial and Corporate Change , volume 1 (1992). In that essay, Rosenberg pointed out that any dynamic economy had to let firms engage in experimentation to find out new ways to innovate and generate profits. Many of these experiments would fail, of course, but the successes would lead to massive economic gains. It was crucial that these experiments be permitted to fail, otherwise no useful information could be gleaned.
I bring this up because looking at economic enterprises as a rolling series of experiments is a great analytical lens to think about offshore outsourcing. Specifically, a lot of firms outsourced offshore as an experiment to boost profits. And, not surprisingly, a lot of experiments fail: Gartner recently predicted that 80% of customer service outsourcing projects aimed to cut costs will fail. That cannot and should not stop other firms from trying -- like MacDonald's outsourcing its drive-thru windows to remote call centers (if you click on the story, note that they're thinking of outsourcing to Norh Dakota and not Bangalore).
The great thing about experimentation is that the people conducting the experiments learn more from failure as success. As firms gain more experience from offshoring, they are starting to recalibrate what is outsourced and what is kept in-house. Kelly Shermach makes this point in CRM Buyer:
U.S. firms are also starting shifting the location of offshoring activities. Some firms are relocating their offshoring activities to the Philippines because of increasing costs of Indian offshoring. Cultural familiarity is also causing firms to switch some of their activities to nearshoring -- i.e., farming out operations to Canada (or, for western European firms, to eastern Europe).
These trends worry some Indian analysts. Sonia Chopra frets in India Daily:
It's with this kind of experimetation in mind that one should read Pete Engardio and Bruce Einhorn's excellent article in Business Week about the offshore outsourcing of R&D activities. The outsourcing of R&D is often considered the "line of death" for economic analysts. If that happens, the thinking goes, so does American technological leadership. Parts of the article sound ominous:
However, a closer read reveals that what's going on is experimentation:
Let the experimentation continue....
UPDATE: The EU, on the other hand, seems to disapprove of both outsourcing as experimentation and any report that signals that these experiments can be successful:
Tuesday, March 15, 2005
Return to sender
Ian Urbina has a fun story in today's New York Times on the small rebellions individuals engage in every day to protest life's petty annoyances. Here's an excerpt:
Can 200,000 Chinese ex-communists be wrong?
This is one of those blog posts where I have to say up front that I don't know enough to gauge the significance of the event I'm posting about. That said, the information is interesting enough to link and mention.
Apparently the Chinese Communist Party has been suffering from a rash of resignations as of late -- approximately 200,000 in four months. At The Epoch Times, Stephen Gregory reports on what's going on:
Now, the thing is, the CCP isn't the only institution that hasn't responded to these resignations -- I can't find a non-Epoch Times report on this. On the other hand, they've been all over the story. What's going on?
Gregory is candid in an e-mail he sent to me:
So there it is. I'll leave it to my readers to decide how much weight to put on this. I would also love to see the mainstream media do some digging on this story.
Monday, March 14, 2005
Calling and raising Hezbollah
Last week I said that the re-appointment of Lebanese PM Omar Karami would trigger more protests. It turns out that was a mild understatement. The Associated Press reports that the anti-Syrian proestors in Lebanon have responded to the reappointment -- and Hezbollah's pro-Syrian rally from last week, which was undoubtedly a factor in Lebanese President Emile Lahoud's decision to reappoint Karami -- with the largest demonstration of people power yet:
Publius Pundit has much, much more on this.
UPDATE: Neil MacFarquar reports on the protest for the New York Times. The telling section:
Blogging as public diplomacy?
Hampton Stephens has a fascinating op-ed in today's Boston Globe about using blogs as a low-cost, high-yield way of enhancing U.S. public diplomacy. The highlights:
Read the whole thing to see more specific policy proposals -- Sprit of America is prominently mentioned.
The one nagging question I have is what happens when a blogger puts their foot in their mouth (as often happens) through a U.S. government-sponsored channel? I suspect this kind of downside can be managed, but I'm not completely certain.
Paging Karen Hughes......
Sunday, March 13, 2005
Can academics be bloggers?
1) Of course academics can be bloggers. The more interesting questions are:
My answer both of these questions is "yes, with significant caveats."
CAN ACADEMICS BE GOOD BLOGGERS?
The answer should be yes:
That said, the answer for many academics is no:
SO, SHOULD ACADEMICS* ENGAGE IN BLOGGING**?
*By academics, I mean untenured ones, because if you have tenure, f$#% it.
**By blogging, I mean political blogging rather than blogging only about one's research, which is an unalloyed good.
UPDATE: Munger posts his round-up as well. His most telling point:
I'll be up for tenure next year, so -- lucky me -- I get to be the first test of Munger's first thesis -- and I hope he's wrong. However, he's dead right about a blog potentially sabotaging a confirmation hearing -- which is why I pretty much threw any dreams of those positions out the window once I started the blog.
Mike also came up with the best turn of phrase for describing the tenure process -- "the star chamber."
I'm not a pure libertarian
Unlike Michael Munger, I'm not terribly bothered by my score of 58 out of a possible 160 points on this Libertarian Purity test. First, that score characterizes me as "a medium-core libertarian," which is pretty much accurate. Second, I'm perfectly comfortable saying no to questions like
As I've said before, "I’m frequently conflicted between my laissez-faire instincts and my clear-eyed recognition that there is no substitute for nation-states in world politics." Libertarian theories of international relations have never been able to cope with this fact.
Saturday, March 12, 2005
What to read on the blogosphere
In honor of my trip to New Orleans to talk about blogs at the Public Choice Society meetings, here's what I'm going to be thinking about for the next 24 hours:
Susan Estrich can't be this stupid
Via Virginia Postrel, I see that the Susan Estrich/Michael Kinsley feud has not abated (click here for my take on the triggering op-ed). James Rainey provides the latest account for the Los Angeles Times. Two interesting facts:
This kind of thinking is on par with Sandy Berger thinking, "Yeah, I bet I can get away with taking some classified documents home without anyone the wiser."
Friday, March 11, 2005
Should Jeffrey Sachs get $150 billion per year?
Time's cover story this week (
For those of you who aren't Time subscribers, check out The End of Poverty web site, which includes a copious collection of Sachs' prior work. Or, you could read this New York Times magazine story on Sachs from a few months ago by Daphne Eviatar. The key graf from that story:
I'm curious what readers think about Sachs' proposal, as it's something I'll be mulling over this weekend. My initial response is threefold:
Two final metanotes: First, I'm somewhat surprised that Time ran the excerpt, a heartbreaking photo essay, and a glowing sidebar on Sachs himself without any critical take on the meat of Sachs' proposals. I'm not saying Time should have done a hatchet job on him or anything -- but there are critiques out there for why Sachs' proposal might not work, and Time does a disservice to their readers if these aren't mentioned somewhere.
If this is an examplar of Time's "Journalism with a Conscience," count me out.
UPDATE: Thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link. And given some of the comments, let's try to head off a few objections at the pass. The following are not valid reasons for rejecting Sachs' plan
To repeat, there are ways to criticize Sachs' plan -- but these arguments don't hold water.
The secret formula for superheroines
Christina Larson has a droll essay in Washington Monthly about how Hollywood has screwed up the female superheroine genre, despite the initial promise from Charlie's Angels or Buffy the Vampire Slayer (the TV show and not the film). The key part:
I would point out that one of Buffy's best seasons was when she had to try to kill her boyfriend -- but that's nitipicking. Read the whole thing.
The dollar hiccups again
Throughout the mid and late nineties, U.S. Treasury secretaries learned to repeat the mantra that "a strong dollar is good for America" ad nauseum to reporters -- because if they didn't, the markets would speculate that the dollar wouldn't be defended and start to go nuts.
Through the mid and late noughties [Is that what this decade is called?--ed. Damned if I know] it's not really going to matter a whole hell of a lot what the U.S. Treasury Secretary says. What matters now is what officials are saying in the countries where official institutions are buying dollars and dollar-denominated assets -- Japan, China, Korea, etc.
And as this Financial Times story suggests, the quicker these officials learn not to publicly discuss "diversification," the less jittery currency markets will be:
Thursday, March 10, 2005
There are going to be more protests in Lebanon
That's not a particularly powerful prediction given this Voice of America story:
Jenny Booth reports in the London Times that the opposition has already rejected joining a unity government.
The Beirut Daily Star's Nada Bakri has the reaction from protestors. They're pretty mixed. Here's one example:
Slavery is alive and well
The Economist has a truly depressing story about the persistence of slavery in parts of Africa and South Asia. Here's how the story begins:
Here's how the story closes:
Click here for more information about the problem.
From a humanitarian perspective, this is just awful. From an international relations perspective, slavery's persistence would seem to pose a significant challenge to theoretical approaches that emphasize the power of transnational norms to eradicate or regulate certain forms of behavior.
Wednesday, March 9, 2005
The tricky thing about eliminating terrorism....
In the wake of Hezbollah's demonstration of political strength yesterday in Lebanon, and President Bush's confident speech declaring that, "[the] best antidote to radicalism and terror is the tolerance and hope kindled in free societies," let's take a look at another part of the world where concerted efforts have been made to extinguish terrorism -- Northern Ireland.
Tom Hundley reports in the Chicago Tribune on how the IRA now faces an opponent more powerful than the Protestant paramilitaries -- three Catholic sisters:
Read the whole thing -- the story suggests just how difficult it might be to eliminate terrorists even when their grass roots support starts to dwindle. As Hundley points out:
Indeed, this is the tricky thing about eliminating terrorists -- they can turn to other activities that lack political content but still destabilize society.
The good news in this case is that the IRA's hamhanded offer of punishment shootings has successfully united the other key domestic and international players in Northern Ireland. Needless to say the punishment shooting offer has drawn the ire and condemnation of both Great Britain and the United States. The McCartney sisters have also rejected the IRA's offer and restated their conviction that “For this family it would only be in court where transparency and accountability prevail that justice will be done."
The uneven progress being made in Northern Ireland merely underscores this paragraph from President Bush's speech yesterday:
This statement would also seem to hold for more affluent, more literate, and yes, more democratic societies as well.
Help out this fifth grader!
I just received the following e-mail, which I've edited a bit:
Alas, as a professor I'm
Yeah, I'm Jewish too
Your surreal post of the day
I honestly don't know how to categorize this post. I'll just relay what the Associated Press has to say about Russell Crowe and Al Qaeda:
I'll leave it to my readers to figure out if this is a prime example of:
UPDATE: Hmmm.... maybe Al Qaeda wasn't behind this fiendish plot.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Readers are heartily encouraged to suggest which celebrity kidnappings would be the most likely to trigger "cultural destabilization" in the United States. Loyal reader B.A. suggests Oprah Winfrey. [What about Salma Hayek?--ed. Ms. Hayek has the distinction of being the celebrity most likely to culturally destabilize the hard-working staff at danieldrezner.com.]
Monday, March 7, 2005
Bad news or really bad news for newspapers?
Is print dying? A Pew Internet survey of how Americans got their information during the 2004 campaign suggests that maybe the answer is yes. Anick Jesdanun explains for the Associated Press:
Click here for Editor & Publisher's take on the report. I'm not sure how much newspapers should be panicking in terms of content -- what appears to be happening is that many people have substituted an online version of their newspaper for the print version. Nevertheless, the secular decline is evident, which should scare the business side of the press. The fact that many people are reading even online newspapers through the editorial filter of either an online news page or a blog is what should rattle editors.
The actual Pew study can be found here -- and here's a link to Michael Cornfield's analysis of the Internet's effect on the 2004 election. Key paragraph:
Hezbollah generates a natural experiment
As change continues to roil parts of the Middle East, media focus is increasing on Lebanon. The Syrian government is getting more specific in its plans for a partial pullout of its troops. However, the really interesting development is within Lebanon's domestic political scene. Scott Wilson explains in the Washington Post about Hezbollah's decision to maintain its support for Syria:
This will be interesting. There is no denying Hebollah's political strength in Lebanon -- however, there is also no denying that the group has been very slow to react to recent political developments.
Many commentators question whether democratization in Lebanon necessarily advance U.S. interests in the region if all it does is empower groups in Hezbollah. I've maintained in the past that even if that short-run effect takes place, democratization remains the proper long-term strategy. However, Tuesday will provide fresh evidence of whether even the short-run costs are as great as many people fear. If Hezbollah musters fewer people than expected in counter-demonstrations, then it suggests the fear of radicalism in a democratizing Middle East might be misplaced. [And if there are huge counter-demonstrations?--ed. Hey, then I'm wrong. But the social scientist in me is more excited about the prospect that there will soon be data to examine the hypothesis than worried about being wrong.]
UPDATE: The Council on Foreign Relations has an informative interview with Stephen A. Cook on the Syria-Lebanon dynamic from late February. Two useful tidbits:
ANOTHER UPDATE: Lee Smith will be posting daily dispatches for Slate this week from Beirut. His first posting contains this amusing paragraph:
The U.S. exports comic book heroes
Kim Barker has a story in today's Chicago Tribune on the adaptation of one comic book hero to the Indian subcontinent:
One wonders if the Spider-Man icon is particularly well-suited for export. One of Spider-Man's distinguishing features among the superhero pantheon is his relative poverty.
Readers are encouraged to propose which countries would embrace which superheroes export -- and why. UPDATE: Readers are also strongly encouraged to peruse David Adesnik's thoughts on this very question from his January Weekly Standard essay
Sunday, March 6, 2005
Back from Waikiki, but juuuuuuust a bit jet-lagged. Regular blogging will resume tomorrow.
In the meantime, Tom Maguire has an idea for how to topple the North Korean regime. Take a look at his proposal and let him know what you think.
Wednesday, March 2, 2005
I'm forced to leave the moderate temperatures of Chicago to the sweltering climate of Honolulu to attend the International Studies Association annual meeting. Perhaps, if I have some spare time between sessions, I'll find the time to post--- oh, who the hell am I kidding??!! I'm going to be in friggin' Hawaii!!!! The only way I'm blogging anything is if it's 4 AM and I can't sleep and there's nothing on HBO.
So.... while I'm gone, go check out David Rothkopf's fascinating Foreign Policy essay, "Inside the Committee that Runs the World." It's about the foreign policy divisions that have emerged within the Bush administration. I've blogged about Rothkopf's argument before, but the FP article is the fullest treatment I've seen on this topic -- plus lots of inside dirt.
From Rothkopf's essay:
Really, read the whole thing.
Tuesday, March 1, 2005
March's Books of the Month
The international relations book is partially inspired by this Brad DeLong post. The highlights:
There's a fair amount to quibble with in this post -- Brad's statements about what diplomats want from trade is pure straw man; neither international relations scholars nor the foreign policy community is blind to the rise of China and India. Nevertheless, the point about U.S. economic openness yielding long-term policy dividends from rising great powers is spot-on.
So, this month's IR book is The United States and the World Economy: Foreign Economic Policy for the Next Decade, edited by C. Fred Bergsten of the Institute for International Economics. The book's precis:
Of particular interest was the chapter by Scott C. Bradford, Paul L. E. Grieco, and Gary Clyde Hufbauer on "The Payoff from Global Integration," in which the authors put a dollar value on the return from past and future trade expansion. Using different methods of estimation, they estimate that the cumulative payoff from trade liberalization since the end of the Second World War ranges between $800 billion to $1.45 trillion dollars per year in added output. This translates into an added per capita benefit of between $2,800 and $5,000—or, more concretely, an addition of somewhere between $7,100 and $12,900 per American household. As for the future, the gains from future trade expansion have been estimated to range between an additional $450 billion and $1.3 trillion per year in additional national income—which would increase per capita income between $1,500 and $2,000 on an annual basis. The fact is, there are few policies in the U.S. government’s tool kit that consistently yield rewards of this magnitude. [What about the costs in terms of jobs lost, etc.?--ed. Estimated as well -- a bit less than $60 billion per year. So there are costs, but they're much, much smaller than the benefits.]
The general interest book [WARNING: COARSE LANGUAGE AHEAD] comes courtesy of Kieran Healy:
Harry Frankfurt's On Bullshit. The first paragraph alone is priceless:
[Why buy the book when the whole text is online?--ed. Well, this is just me, but I love small books that can fit in one's pocket. More importantly, however, is that I'm traveling tomorrow and I'm already looking forward to reading the book on the plane just to see the reactions to the title. A printout just doesn't have the same punch.]