Nota Bene

A Pen Mightier Than The Sword

Aleksander Solzhenitsyn, the Nobel Prize-winning author of The Gulag Archipelago has died at 89. His influence helped foster in the end of the Soviet empire and the dawn of a new age of freedom. His willingness to speak out against the evils of the Soviet system helped forge the moral case against Communism.

Nearly every artist seems to claim to “speak truth to power”—and most of the time it is more about stroking their egos. Aleksander Solzhenitsyn actually did speak truth to power, and in so doing changed the world.


Israel, Nota Bene

Six Days That Changed The World

Power Line notes the 40th anniversary of the Six Day War, a war that nearly ended the state of Israel, but ended up being one of the most decisive victories in modern military history.

One of the best military histories I’ve ever read is Michael Oren’s Six Days of War which covers every aspect of the Six Day War in vivid detail without being didactic or losing the frantic nature of the conflict.

Oren finds that the Arab armies were weakened by poor communications and training, but that Israel’s victory was often in spite of the Israeli’s constant self-doubt and over-analysis. Those same factors were in play in the recent war between Israel and Hizballah in Lebanon — and while Israel’s victory in 1967 is unquestionable, the Israel-Hizballah conflict was far less decisive. The lessons that can be learned from 1967 haven’t necessarily been learned by either side in that conflict.

Oren’s history reads like a Tom Clancy novel, but remains a balanced and objective look at what happened in the Six Day War and how close Israel nearly came to destruction. Anyone wanting to understand more about one of the most pivotal moments in Middle Eastern history would do well to add it to their summer reading list.

Nota Bene

PhotoCop Gets The Red Light

The Minnesota Supreme Court has ruled that the Minneapolis photo red-light enforcement system violates the state constitution. I haven’t read the ruling, but I’m not surprised. These cameras are less about public safety and more about increasing revenue to municipalities. In fact, studies have shown that red light cameras actually increase accidents where they’re installed.

I’m not a big fan of the ACLU, but they got this one right — photo enforcement is about revenue over public safety and usually ends up increasing the former at the expense of the latter — not even considering the Big Brother implications of such programs.

Consider this an open thread to discuss traffic cameras, previous posts, or whatever else is on your mind…

Nota Bene

This Is Sparta!

Victor Davis Hanson (himself a renowned scholar of the Greco-Persian War) has an interesting take on why 300 seems to rankle so many on the left:

There is a great yearning among the public for just a small, rare chance to see some issue presented in terms other than moral ambiguity. 300 provided that in a way other costume dramas like Alexander or Troy either could not or did not. The 300 and those beside them were better than the alternative, had the moral high ground, and were willing to match deed with word.

Now, I haven’t seen 300 yet (being a law student and having time and money be in perennially short supply), but it does seem to have hit a certain audience who wants a movie that doesn’t require itself to ponderously attach a host of moral equivocations to its plot. Sometimes the good guys really are good, and the bad guys really are bad. (And the fact that it happened to come out in a time of conflict with the modern-day Persian Empire probably doesn’t hurt either…)

Consider this an open thread…

Nota Bene

Forum On “Our Children’s Children’s War”

Consider this an open thread on “Our Children’s Children’s War.” For those who saw the documentary, did you think that it made valid points? For those who didn’t, do you think that the “war on terrorism” is truly a generational conflict. What would be the result of a US withdrawal from Iraq on the global war on terrorism? Would it hand al-Qaeda a victory and increase their momentum or would it decrease terrorist recruitment?

Nota Bene, Site News

Signal And Noise

I’ve made the decision to disable comments on future posts. I’ll still be allowing open TrackBacks from other blogs, but not including comments.

The primary reason for this is that there are so few comments of any substance that it’s just not worth having any. So far it’s the same cast of characters making the same diatribes without any real intelligent discussion of the issues. People who have had intelligent and thoughtful things to say have been actively turned off by the caliber of comments on this site. That isn’t acceptable to me.

A worthwhile comment is something like “You failed to note the implications of X, for reasons Y and Z, and here’s why X impacts your argument.” A comment that is not worthwhile is something like “all Republicans are evil, and cannot be trusted.” The former is a intelligent, thoughtful criticism based on a good-faith reading of the argument. The latter is just mere cant grounded in bad faith. If I had more comments like the former, even ones that were challenging and contradictory, I’d be fine with leaving comments open. Sadly, those are few and far between.

Secondly, I have my own personal professional interests to look out for. I don’t blog under pseudonym specifically because it forces me to be more moderate in my tone and more thoughtful in my analysis. (And even then, sometimes my tone is more strident than it should, and my analysis been less than perfect.)

There’s a difference between being a partisan advocate and being an unthinking partisan, and sadly 99% of the political debate is being advanced by the latter. If I’m going to spend my time looking at contrary views, I’d rather read Kevin Drum, Joshua Micah Marshall or Andrew Sullivan, then go through the fever swamps of The Daily Kos or Eschaton. (For that matter, that’s why I don’t read a large number of right-wing blogs as well.)

Finally, managing the torrent of spam, while not as hard as it was in old days, is still an annoyance, and I have no desire to spend what little time I have not researching legal matters with commenting issues.

As a compromise, I will occasionally create “open threads” that will have comments enabled from time to time. I’ve never been a fan of the concept, but I’m willing to give it a try. If the level of rhetoric on those becomes such that I feel comfortable enabling comments on a more general basis, I will do so.

This site is and always has been my personal project, paid for by my own money and on my own time. To paraphrase Reagan, I paid for this mic, so I can set the rules. This isn’t a step I take lightly, but I’d rather not allow the signal to noise ratio on this site become such that people are actively discouraged from participating. If that’s going to be the case, it’s better to step back and re-evaluate whether it’s worth it to have comments at all.

Comments will be enabled on this post. Consider this the first “open thread.”

Nota Bene

Nota Bene

Blogging may be just a bit on the light side this week, as I’m really pushing to get the new redesign out before the new year. I’m actually quite excited about this one as it takes this site back to its roots while simultaneously adding some nifty new design tricks I’ve learned subsequently.

I finally broke down and bought a copy of ecto for my iBook. ecto is one of the best blog clients that I’ve used (although I still have a soft spot for BloGTK for obvious reasons), and it is also available for Windows for those poor unfortunates stuck with that platform.

The horrible tsunami in South Asia has killed tens of thousands. Already there’s a local blog with the latest news and ways in which you can help. This is yet another example of how the blogosphere is rapidly becoming one of the most important sources of information out there today. Daniel Drezner also has more.

It appears as though you’re safe in canceling that Apocalypse party in 2037 now…