Anyway, here's a landscape.
|Vischer Ferry, 11/8/13.|
|Vischer Ferry, 11/8/13.|
So in Gstaad, while everyone else went on holiday, we made a novel. Bill woke up at 4:30 every morning. I drove up to the chalet, overlooking the mountain face of the Videmanette, at 7:30. Bill always lent his four-wheel-drive Peugeot to his young assistants. He handed me the keys our first day at the top of the hill and gave me a quiz about the route to get his morning newspaper. I didn’t want to admit I couldn’t drive stick. So I learned on the road from my hotel to the chalet, and promptly burned out the clutch.Me: I could easily imagine not wanting to tell Buckley that you can't drive stick. On the other hand, honesty has a lot to be said for it. I'm reminded of an anecdote from Richard Brookhiser's memoir Right Time, Right Place: Coming of Age with William F. Buckley Jr. and the Conservative Movement in which Buckley asked an aristocratic but impoverished friend why he'd come by train second class, and the answer was "Because there is no third class."
Some in the Obama administration seem to have decided that Rouhani is an Iranian Mikhail Gorbachev, a leader with whom the West can do business. In this view, a "win" for Rouhani is important to the West, strengthening moderates against hardliners and opening the way to a broader detente.
The trouble with this view, however, is that the evidence is strong that Rouhani is really the Iranian Yuri Andropov, the former Soviet secret police chief who preceded Gorbachev. Less doctrinaire and stupid than other Communist leaders, Andropov was no less hostile to the West. Rouhani led the long effort to dupe Western governments about Iran's nuclear program in the earlier 2000s.
There's every reason to fear that the "detente" he wants is one that allows Iran to obtain a respite from sanctions while continuing its development of weapons of mass destruction.Analysis: One may of course disagree with the analogy of Rouhani to Andropov, but it provides a basis for consideration and debate. Its relevance to the current situation is clear, and there is a possibility a reader initially disagreeing with the author's position will reconsider in light of it.
The British think the deal with Iran makes sense. Then, again, it was a British government that believed Munich meant we could all get a good night’s sleep now.
The Russians laud the deal. But it was a government in Moscow that believed the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact solved all its problems.Analysis: n/a.
First, and perhaps foremost in terms of lessons that Obama ought to heed from how Bush handled his second term, is how the 43rd president re-engineered his cabinet. He didn't just change who was in top posts, but he changed the way his cabinet worked. This process began prior to Hurricane Katrina as he moved Condoleezza Rice from her post as national security advisor to secretary of state and asked her deputy, Stephen Hadley, to replace her in the national security advisor's corner office in the West Wing. As secretary of state, Colin Powell, like Rice and others, suffered during Bush's first term as a consequence of a national security process that was overly dominated by the close, sometimes process-circumventing collaboration between Vice President Dick Cheney and his former mentor, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Rice told the president she was reluctant to accept the new post if it meant that she, like Powell, would end up being locked in permanent fights with Rumsfeld. This helped advance a process of retooling that was supported by having her onetime deputy at the National Security Council (NSC), not just because of the closeness between the two, but because of Hadley's skill as a manager and honest broker who knew the NSC's workings as well as any individual who had ever assumed the role.Me: It's worth pointing out that Bush's "rebound" was really a question of getting substance right, or at least better, and not so much about rebounding in popularity and political clout. In any case, reminders of the uneasy interaction between Rumsfeld (and Cheney) on one hand and Rice on the other will, I think, bolster the latter's reputation, maybe with some implications for a few years down the road.
New Gallup poll numbers show Americans increasingly dispute the idea that government has a responsibility to make sure everybody can get health insurance. It's tempting to see that as an indictment against Obamacare, but it might just mean more Americans are becoming jerks.
What's clear is that the shifting views on health care predate the Affordable Care Act. The number of Americans who think health care is the government's responsibility hovered around two-thirds for the first half of the 2000s, peaking at 69 percent in 2006. Then those numbers started falling, hitting 50 percent in 2010 and 42 percent this year.Me: Note the disingenuousness in the above (which persists throughout the piece). Flavelle refers repeatedly to "government" and "the government" without modifying that to say "federal" or "U.S." government. But when you look at the Gallup poll he cites, the question's wording was "Do you think it is the responsibility of the federal government to make sure all Americans have health coverage, or that it is not the responsibility of the federal government?" Federal--it's there twice on one sentence. So, if someone thinks it's a responsibility of state government, they would fall under Flavelle's "jerks" category. Of course, there are many other ways to get into Flavelle's "jerks" category, such as thinking that it's highly desirable for people to have health insurance and thus that government (federal or state) should not enact policies that actually make it harder to get health insurance or that get you kicked off your current plan.
The problem of cosmological fine-tuning is never straightforward. It is not clear, in the first place, when it is legitimate to complain that a physical theory treats some phenomenon as a highly contingent ‘product of chance’. Where the complaint is legitimate, the cosmologist has several different means of recourse. The inflationary Big Bang illustrates how a change in dynamics can convert delicate dependence on initial conditions to a robust independence from the initial state. The bubble universe scenario demonstrates how low individual probabilities can be overcome by multiplying the number of chances. And homeostasis provides a mechanism for variable quantities to naturally evolve to special unchanging values that could easily be mistaken for constants of nature.Me: I think he's right--it's not straightforward. Back in 1999 I first delved into this topic, in a cover story for Reason magazine (I link to a PDF since the article as currently posted on Reason's website has an editorial glitch) and my focus was on rebutting claims from journalists and conservatives that science had "found God" via supposed fine-tuning in physics. I returned to the subject in subsequent years including here and here. While I continued (and continue) to think the religion-from-physics case is weak, I also came to see some skeptics seeking to bat away the religious pitch as themselves being a bit too cocksure, about multiple universes and other cosmic speculations that bolstered their atheism. My 1999 article, I think, did a decent job of suggesting how little we know, cosmically.
|Nicely done aerial photo-based map.|
|One of many historic markers.|
|Classical Greek Revival house in Vischer Ferry hamlet.|
This form of mystery hides information not through concealment or confusion but through complexity and depth. We don’t know what history or nature will produce; there are too many variables and too much detail to comprehend in a glance. Hence the mystery of rugged coastlines, verdigris patina, and twisting woodland paths. As a design element, such mystery appears in Alexander McQueen’s 2009 Plato’s Atlantis collection, with its phosphorescent sequins, opalescent beads, and jellyfish and reptile-skin prints. This is the mystery of the layered, the fluid, and the fractal: the mystery of complexity. [Italics in the original.]