It's hard for me to remember what I've said in public and what I haven't on here - I've become a bit self-conscious about blogging because I don't want to always be moping or saying the same thing, even if in the first it acts as a useful purgative and in the latter it lets me work on ways to better express some of my ideas or rework them in ways that they better fit with others. I never really wanted to think about what I write in that way, but I suppose it's a necessary consequence of my having one blog and a lot of different ideas on how it should be used. This might sometimes be for the better, for some notions of better at least - often in life we're better off being constrained by reality (or other people) rather than being left to our own devices. This reminds me of some further thoughts I've been having while reading the current issue of Middle East Journal...
- Lebanese politics are fascinating, and the degree to which Israel acts as a useful boogeyman to distract from internal problems and history is realised in an appropriately-nationally-flavoured way. The recent lebanese war and the shaky government that arose after it appears to be working out a bit like the millet system of the Ottomans. Political/Educational discussion (or even acknowledgement) of the war and reconciliation between various/conflicting ethnic/national myths of the societal factions is reported to be a very touchy subject.
- There's an article comparing the Neo-Conservative faction of the U.S. Republican party and what the article calls the "Neo-Revisionist" political movement in Israel (largely realised in Likud and greatly reduced in influence after Sharon created Kadima). I found the emphasis given to exceptionalism in the philosophies to be interesting (I need to work out the nuances of how my thoughts relate to various realisations of exceptionalism), but more interesting was the assertion that a number of prominent Neo-Cons were in youth involved in Trotskyite politics. The article suggested that elements of Trotskyite Communism carried over into NeoConservativism - an interventionist foreign policy that aims to tear down opressive structure repeatedly until the public good is achieved (even though the definition of the public good is Free-Market American-style Democracy for NeoCons) and an unwillingness to comprimise on matters of principle. This reminds me of some ends versus means discussions the atheist group I was part of in Columbus often had, where one large faction of unitarian-style atheists didn't like that another faction (hard-liners) were willing to say things that would anger fundies, saying that part of what brought them to atheism was that they were tired of preaching-type behaviour and moralising and that the second faction was "just as bad" as the fundies. I think the first group was confused about ends and means - just as they're important to understand separately there, they are here. When we engage in political criticism, from whatever stance we take on broad-versus-narrow authority of judges to interpret law, separation of powers, or other aspects of how parties manipulate the system to get their result, are we really criticising the means or is the means just a proxy to express anger about the ends? It doesn't feel very substantial to say "I don't like what their goals are" when one can harp over the ends, but it might be a lot more honest.
- Some of the early CIA analysis on events after the dissolution of the Palestinian Mandate were rather prescient.
Every so often I go for a day without my hat, sometimes to let it air out, sometimes because I feel like it. It seems that I get a lot more positive female attention from people I don't know when I'm hatless - I wonder if the hat makes me look older, makes me look more southern-conservative (or maybe Jewish?), or if it's just that big, curly hair is a better draw. I'm rather fond of my hat, but it is kind of nice having girls be flirty with me. Hmm.
POG gave their report of the march - the campus police apparently didn't stop them, and they brag of graffiti, broken windows and lights, and otherwise making a mess. This again sounds more like catharsis than targeted action, especially given that the building was largely empty when they went in and I don't think they made it to the correct building anyhow. I wonder who writes their summaries - the style is sensationalist and it reminds me a bit of a few troll groups. Politics makes such interesting bedfellows... although to be fair they're pretty decent, cool people anyhow.
I realise recently that I've either seriously misjudged someone, or they've grown a lot as a person in a way I considered them to be fairly flawed before. I wish I knew which it was...