May 3rd, 2006

Boss Coffee

I guess it wasn't a backhoe after all

It looks like last night's LJ problems were due to enemy action and not an accident as I originally suggested in a comment on michaellee's LJ. Six Apart confirmed that they were the target of a distributed DOS attack last night in a post on the lj_maintenance community and in e-mail to the Blogfather by Anil Dash last night.

So is this connected with last week's attack on Hosting Matters blogs? Malkin says yes, Dash and Reynolds aren't so sure. Either would be nice to know that the NSA or DoD has some 1337 h4x0r types on the payroll who are licensed to bring the smackdown, even if those responsible are located in "friendly" territory.

Duty now for the future

Der Spiegel has an interesting article on Singapore's recent move to loosen up politically as part of a general drive to encourage creativity and spur the city-state's transition to a post-industrial economy. I'd seen posts in other blogs about the enormous rallies in support of the opposition Workers' Party, so this doesn't come as a complete surprise, but I wasn't aware that the ruling PAP was actually tolerating this sort of thing. I wonder how similar this really is to the steps taken by the KMT in Taiwan some years ago? Granted, the political situation isn't entirely the same, since Singapore doesn't have a ginormous neighbor continually making irredentist threatening noises, do they? Last I heard, neither Malaysia nor Indonesia were terribly keen on the ethnic Chinese who (IIRC) make up the vast majority of Singapore's citizens, but it's not a corner of the world I claim to know much about.

Via Colby Cosh. Also worth checking out is the interview with the retiring President of Costa Rica, the story on polio in Somalia and the asshats in India who made a four-year-old run ten and a half miles.Talk about news of the world.
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The limits of specialization

Winterspeak over at Asymmetrical Information has an interesting post regarding a speech by John Mearsheimer, who has been much discussed in the blogosphere lately for collaborating with Steven Walt on a paper that puts him pretty much in the same corner vis a vis Israel as such notables as David Duke and Louis Farrakhan. That's not what Winterspeak is on about, though; Mearsheimer's speech was on the rise of China, viewed through the lens of his structural realism theory, and Winterspeak proceeds to deliver a rather harsh critique of the theory as being, shall we say, not entirely grounded in reality.

Now, while I think you ought to read the whole thing, I'm coming at this from an entirely different angle. Back when I was studying to finish my BA, I took a lot of courses on the social history of the Army and related topics, and did an independent study on military reform. This was in the late 1980s; the Cold War was rapidly winding down as Yeltsin succeeded Gorbachev as head of what was no longer the USSR. The whole topic of American military reform was very recent history, and one of the major "players" in the field was John Mearsheimer, who had some interesting things to say about what the objectives of the United States should be and how they should be accomplished. He made quite a bit of sense at the time, and when I read about the bizarro theories he's become known for I can't help wondering whether he's just gotten in over his head. I don't understand how you can possibly think that the type of government a nation has is irrelevant to the way it's going to act in the international arena, or that economics has no role to play in international relations. I mean, as a an Air Force officer educated at West Point, surely Mearsheimer must be aware of the main reason Japan decided it was worth going to war with the United States and the British Empire in 1941. (Hint: It's the reason a lot of people think we're in Iraq now.) They were already a local hegemon; what did they have to gain by taking on Uncle Sam and John Bull? So...he's gotten a PhD in international relations without stopping to consider economics or politics in any depth as being related to the subject of his doctorate. Bizarre, but perfectly possible in the humanities as practiced in America these days. As King Banaian says at the head of his blog, "Deleriant, isti magistri - They are mad, these professors!"