Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Book Analysis and Notes: The Wisdom of Crowds

I uploaded a review and notes about The Wisdom of Crowds, by James Surowiecki. If I had to describe it in one word it would be 'unsatisfying'. The concept that aggregate opinions can in some circumstances significantly outperform an individual is interesting. The circumstances which delineate good crowds from bad ones however IS the story, and the author doesn't spend nearly enough time fleshing them out. Unfortunate.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

POW: Susan Faludi on C-Span

C-Span's After Words program had an excellent interview with Susan Faludi about her new book, The Terror Dream. It is a gender analysis of the media representation of 9/11 and the war on terror. Much good stuff.

Most of the topics covered I knew about before (hagiography around 9/11 widows, demonization of 'Jersey Girls', Jessica Lynch) but laying it all out together makes for a powerful presentation.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Another Take

Glenn Greenwald takes on the same issue as Bacevich, albeit with more vitriol.

Synopsis of the moral issue:

...until we stop operating on the premise that the world is our playground to run and control through military force -- for invasions, bombing campaigns, wars and occupations to be commenced whenever we perceive it to be in our "interests," however broadly that might be defined -- the only real question is how quickly these problems are going to worsen, how severely the accompanying erosion of our national character will become. A country that is defined by endless war and world military hegemony is inevitably, unavoidably, the Nation of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and Torture and Renditions and Limitless Presidential Power and Secret Black Sites and Blackwater. You can't have one without the other.

Good Bacevich Op-Ed

Andrew Bacevich has a good Op-Ed in the Washington Post on the truth and consequences of escalation in Iraq.
Look beyond the spin, the wishful thinking, the intellectual bullying and the myth-making. The real legacy of the surge is that it will enable Bush to bequeath the Iraq war to his successor...

Remember when it was considered politically possible to withdraw troops from Iraq? A time when it was politically possible to at least TALK about our purpose in maintaining the occupation of Iraq?

Friday, January 11, 2008

UC Berkeley: Spring 2008 Semester

The new semester podcasts are up at UC Berkeley, kind of a thin lineup. I suppose I could just listen to last semester's courses, most of which I've ignored to date (I had a great excuse, trust me).

My picks for the semester:
History 181B: Modern Physics. Maybe it will inspire me to finish reading that Gell-Mann biography I haven't picked up since Chicago...

Info 205: Information Law and Policy. Building code for digital architecture.

I'll pass on Polysci 179, which is the one class I listened to regularly from last semester.

Rhetoric 10: Introduction to Practical Reasoning and Critical Analysis of Argument. Just what the country needs in an election year.

Not a thin lineup after all.