Wednesday, September 26, 2007

POW: Louise Richardson

The UC Berkeley Post-9/11 Foreign Policy Class had a good lecture(the one from 9/17) by Louise Richardson on the motivations of terrorists. Much clear thinking about a topic that receives too little. A complimentary podcast can be found in the same class a year ago when they had Robert Pape speak(2/16 lecture) about suicide bombing in particular.

The critical point I think is that terrorists are not speaking to their victims- they're speaking to someone else. A lot follows from that.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

POW: Cass Sunstein

The Carnegie Council has an interesting podcast of a lecture by Cass Sunstein on the semi-famous Colorado experiments. Those experiments tested group decision making dynamics, and showed how like minded groups tended to become more extreme as a body as time went on, the 'echo chamber' effect. Sunstein discusses the consequences of these experiments with respect to political discourse, terrorism, and blogs. A short description of the experiment by Sunstein is here.

The thing I found most interesting was the application to terrorism. Al Qaeda is described as an echo chamber, wherein discourse is deliberately pushed to the furthest extremes (normalizing suicide bombing, for instance). Combating terrorism then requires breaking up the echo chamber, pushing dissonance, not just differing information but a differing dialog. Tricky and interesting stuff.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Supreme Court Transcripts and Opinions

I came across a resource page for the Supreme Court, including oral argument transcripts and opinions. Arguments go back to the end of 2000, opinions start in 2004. Nice if you want to dig into Kelo or Ramdan.

Friday, September 7, 2007

UC Berkeley Podcasts

Berkeley has started their fall semester, and that means a whole new batch of podcast courses to choose from. My choices: Nutrition, Ancient Mediterranean History, and a PolySci Colloquium. Not sure about that last one, but what the heck.