- Name: Kadnine
- Location: LaGrange, Kentucky, United States
The opinions and interests of a husband, analyst and Iraq war veteran.
Environmentalists and globalization foes are united in their fear that greater population and consumption of energy, materials, and chemicals accompanying economic growth, technological change and free trade—the mainstays of globalization—degrade human and environmental well-being.
Indeed, the 20th century saw the United States’ population multiply by four, income by seven, carbon dioxide emissions by nine, use of materials by 27, and use of chemicals by more than 100.
Yet life expectancy increased from 47 years to 77 years. Onset of major disease such as cancer, heart, and respiratory disease has been postponed between eight and eleven years in the past century. Heart disease and cancer rates have been in rapid decline over the last two decades, and total cancer deaths have actually declined the last two years, despite increases in population. Among the very young, infant mortality has declined from 100 deaths per 1,000 births in 1913 to just seven per 1,000 today.
The proximate cause of improvements in well-being is a “cycle of progress” composed of the mutually reinforcing forces of economic development and technological progress. But that cycle itself is propelled by a web of essential institutions, particularly property rights, free markets, and rule of law. Other important institutions would include science- and technology-based problem-solving founded on skepticism and experimentation; receptiveness to new technologies and ideas; and freer trade in goods, services—most importantly in knowledge and ideas.
In short, free and open societies prosper. Isolation, intolerance, and hostility to the free exchange of knowledge, technology, people, and goods breed stagnation or regression.
A sour odor hovered oh-so-slightly in the air, the faint tang, not wholly unpleasant, that is the mark of the home composter. Isabella Beavan, age 2, staggered around the neo-Modern furniture — the Eames chairs, the brown velvet couch, the Lucite lamps and the steel cafe table upon which dinner was set — her silhouette greatly amplified by her organic cotton diapers in their enormous boiled-wool, snap-front cover.
A visitor avoided the bathroom because she knew she would find no toilet paper there.
Welcome to Walden Pond, Fifth Avenue style. Isabella's parents, Colin Beavan, 43, a writer of historical nonfiction, and Michelle Conlin, 39, a senior writer at Business Week, are four months into a yearlong lifestyle experiment they call No Impact. Its rules are evolving, as Mr. Beavan will tell you, but to date include eating only food (organically) grown within a 250-mile radius of Manhattan; (mostly) no shopping for anything except said food; producing no trash (except compost, see above); using no paper; and, most intriguingly, using no carbon-fueled transportation.
For a dozen years, Ira Glass has worked to exploit the unique qualities of radio as a storytelling medium in "This American Life." So now that he's branching out to television, the first impression one has is that nothing could be more misguided or less true to the show's original purpose.
And you know what? Glass himself shared that initial impression. "When we began this program, I was naive. I honestly didn't believe pictures could add anything to a story," he says in a promotional DVD distributed by Showtime and the show's original home at WBEZ 91.5-FM's Chicago Public Radio.
From "Last Poems"
As I gird on for fighting
My sword upon my thigh,
I think on old ill fortunes
Of better men than I.
Think I, the round world over,
What golden lads are low
With hurts not mine to mourn for
And shames I shall not know.
What evil luck soever
For me remains in store,
'Tis sure much finer fellows
Have fared much worse before.
So here are things to think on
That ought to make me brave,
As I strap on for fighting
My sword that will not save.
Michael provides dispatches [from Iraq] on his own amazing website as often as possible. Unfortunately, because of his circumstances, he’s for obvious reasons not able to do as much writing as he would like or as we would like.
But he does have a satellite phone. And that’s where I come in. Every day, or as often as possible, Michael and I plan to speak and then I will write up a report of what Michael is seeing, hearing and doing. We both hope, and both expect, that what will come out of these conversations is coverage of the situation in Iraq that’s different from and superior to anything the mainstream media has provided in the four years of the conflict.
The runaway blockbuster 300 has prompted renewed interest in the classics. The movie has it all — heroism, sex, violence, good vs. evil — who knew dead white men could be so interesting? The historical inaccuracies in the movie are legion, as in many historical films (let alone those based on a graphic novel). But if the movie motivates people to learn about the true story then I’m all in favor.
One is attracted to the human drama of the story. A small band of fighters willingly sacrifice themselves against vastly superior forces to buy time so armies could assemble to defeat the enemy later. It is no mystery why the defense of the Alamo was soon dubbed “America’s Thermopylae.” In fact the first Alamo monument bore the inscription, “Thermopylae had her messenger of defeat - the Alamo had none.” Leave it to the Texans to one-up the ancients. [Hah! - ed.]
But the analogy is inexact, because of what the respective groups were defending. The heroes of 1836 were fighting for freedom. The Spartans fought to maintain their autocratic state. A better analogy is not the Alamo but Iwo Jima, from the Japanese point of view (also recently dramatized in Letters from Iwo Jima). Both groups of defenders, Spartan and Imperial Japanese, were prepared to die fighting the enemy — but not for things we value.
Yes, we can admire them on the human level, for the bravery it took to fight against hopeless odds for the cause in which they believed. Courage, self-sacrifice, and indomitable spirit are qualities we like to see in our heroes. But is that enough? Shouldn’t we take the cause into account too? Seriously, in the battle of Spartans vs. Persians, for whom do you root? Both were unsavory.
If you can’t quite get behind rooting for the Spartans, there were other heroes on the scene at Thermopylae, people the movie ignores. Herodotus tells us that when it became clear that the Greek defensive position had been flanked, Leonidas ordered the men from the other Greek states to leave, to prepare for the confrontation yet to come. But the 700 men of Thespiae, led by Demophilus, refused. They chose to stand with the three hundred Spartans, to fight beside them. "So they abode with the Spartans," Herodotus wrote, "and died with them."
Who were the Thespians? No, not actors — hard to imagine seven hundred or even seventeen taking up arms these days. They came from Boeotia, near Mt. Helicon, a little more than midway between Thermopylae and Athens. Their polis was traditionally a democracy. The Thespian Hoplites were much more akin to the volunteer citizen soldiers long seen as the backbone of the American fighting forces. Unlike the Spartans, the Thespians did not spend their lives drilling and training for war while living off the sweat and toil of those the enslaved Helots. The Thespians were free men who lived freely, and defended their city because their conscience demanded it.
What little we know of Thespiae leads us to believe that life there was pleasant, and cultured.
The Thespians made a greater sacrifice than the Spartans, but they did not have the power and influence of Sparta, nor apparently the ability to inspire the same sort of myth-making... Today in Thermopylae there are two main monuments to the defenders. The Spartan monument features a wall flanked by sculptures of figures reclining, fronted by a bas relief of the battle, and with a statue of a Spartan hoplite, spear raised, dominating the center, above the inscription "Come and take them." At the traditional spot of the last stand, a plaque proclaims, "Stranger, bear this message to the Spartans, that we lie here obedient to their laws."
Nearby stands a strangely muted memorial to the soldiers of Thespiae, a dark, headless, armless, legless trunk, a shattered remnant of a man, and beside the pedestal a marble tablet dedicating the shrine to the unknown defenders of the pass who chose to sacrifice themselves for democracy and their homeland.
Today there are over fifty journalists here. We have an excellent new Commanding General, David Petraeus. A big plan is unfolding that will affect the lives of nearly every person reading this, and many more. Soon the weather will change as a long, hot, grinding, and sticky year begins, but most journalists will spend little time here. When the weather turns hot, most will go home.
Under that strange high moon rising to meet its eclipse, I thought of Ernie. Ernie Pyle. His was a name I hardly knew just two years ago, except in some vague way I knew he had been a writer, at war. That changed when people compared my work to his, and sent a couple of Ernie’s books to me. After reading them, I thought the comparison extremely flattering but not deserved. There are some obvious and even stylistic similarities. I say “folks” a lot; so did Ernie. Ernie had a particular heart for the infantry; I spend most of my time with infantry. But while Ernie talked bluntly about the ugly parts of war, I simply lack the skills to make anything ugly look pretty.
Where Pyle and I share closest ties is in our knowledge of the value our work has for troop morale, for strategic gains, and for ensuring the support of Americans back home.
Today begins an exciting project at HughHewitt.com... Michael provides dispatches on his own amazing website as often as possible. Unfortunately, because of his circumstances, he’s for obvious reasons not able to do as much writing as he would like or as we would like. But he does have a satellite phone. And that’s where I come in. Every day, or as often as possible, Michael and I plan to speak and then I will write up a report of what Michael is seeing, hearing and doing. We both hope, and both expect, that what will come out of these conversations is coverage of the situation in Iraq that’s different from and superior to anything the mainstream media has provided in the four years of the conflict.
When I got Michael back on the phone, he was his usual spirited self. He was also pretty blunt in his assessment regarding some members of the Public Affairs Office. “There are some guys who are winning this war,” he said. “There are others who are losing it.”
[Jeff Jacoby:] "Whatever else he may believe or advocate, Shawcross seems clearly to be a man of intellectual integrity. That makes his thoughts on the current crisis all the more valuable."