Wednesday, July 19, 2017

ICYMI: MacKinlay Kantor, Andersonville

At Amazon, MacKinlay Kantor, Andersonville.

William Manchester, The Arms of Krupp

At Amazon, William Manchester, The Arms of Krupp: The Rise and Fall of the Industrial Dynasty That Armed Germany at War.

Literally Unhinged Mother in Paterson, New Jersey, Arrested After Smashing Car Windows with Children Inside (VIDEO)

I'm watching the video, on Twitter, thinking wtf?!! I would've been out of that car in a second smashing that crazy woman with anything I could get my hands on!

She's literally about to kill someone, dang.

Turns out it was a domestic dispute, and the children's father, who was inside as well, called the police.

At the Bergen County Record, "Paterson mom charged with taking hammer to car with kids inside."

'Dunkirk' – Christopher Nolan's Best Film So Far (VIDEO)

The "Dunkirk" world premiere was July 13th, at Odeon Leicester Square in London. The film opens to general release in both Britain and the U.S. on Friday. I've been eagerly waiting for this flick since I first saw snippets over a year ago. As readers know, these big historical World War II epics are my favorite. And apparently, this one does not disappoint.

There'll be more movie reviews out over the next few days, but I saw this very impressive one at the Guardian (of all places) a couple of nights ago.

See, "Dunkirk review – Christopher Nolan's apocalyptic war epic is his best film so far":

Britain’s great pyrrhic defeat or inverse victory of 1940 has been brought to the screen as a terrifying, shattering spectacle by Christopher Nolan. He plunges you into the chaotic evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from northern France after the catastrophic battle of Dunkirk – helped by the now legendary flotilla of small civilian craft. It is part disaster movie, part compressed war epic, and all horribly appropriate for these Brexit times.

Nolan’s Dunkirk has that kind of blazing big-screen certainty that I last saw in James Cameron’s Titanic or Paul Greengrass’s United 93. It is very different to his previous feature, the bafflingly overhyped sci-fi convolution Interstellar. This is a powerful, superbly crafted film with a story to tell, avoiding war porn in favour of something desolate and apocalyptic, a beachscape of shame, littered with soldiers zombified with defeat, a grimly male world with hardly any women on screen.

It is Nolan’s best film so far. It also has Hans Zimmer’s best musical score: an eerie, keening, groaning accompaniment to a nightmare, switching finally to quasi-Elgar variations for the deliverance itself. Zimmer creates a continuous pantonal lament, which imitates the dive bomber scream and queasy turning of the tides, and it works in counterpoint to the deafening artillery and machine-gun fire that pretty much took the fillings out of my teeth and sent them in a shrapnel fusillade all over the cinema auditorium...
Keep reading.

Elite Model Fashion Model Ronja Furrer

She's on Instagram.

And at Drunken Stepfather, "RONJA FURRER IS SOME MODEL OF THE DAY."

More here, "Ronja Furrer is a Beach Bombshell for Harper’s Bazaar Czech":
Ronja Furrer turns up the heat in the August 2017 issue of Harper’s Bazaar Czech. Photographed by Andreas Ortner, the brunette poses in sexy swimsuit looks for the fashion editorial. Stylist Hannah Goddes chooses one-piece styles and bikinis for Ronja to wear at Germany’s Sylt beach. The model wears designs from the likes of Triangl, La Perla and Calvin Klein.

Arrived Yesterday: Omar El Akkad, American War

Okay, I started reading this yesterday and it's good.

At Amazon, Omar El Akkad, American War.

I'm not making any big recommendations yet. Let me finish the whole thing and put it in context. I will note that I bought a used copy through Amazon (even less expensive), and the previous owner was a member of the Book of the Month Club, heh. Seems weird the club's still going. The L.A. Times wrote about it last year, "It's not your grandma's Book of the Month Club."

In any case, thanks for shopping through my Amazon links. I'm going to try to read for a while before I get sucked back into the time maw of blogging and social media, lol.

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Angela Nagle, Kill All Normies


Here's something new and interesting.

At Amazon, Angela Nagle, Kill All Normies: Online Culture Wars From 4Chan and Tumblr to Trump and the Alt-Right.

Richard Overy, The Twilight Years


At Amazon, Richard Overy, The Twilight Years: The Paradox of Britain Between the Wars.

Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann, The Racial State


At Amazon, Michael Burleigh and Wolfgang Wippermann, The Racial State: Germany 1933-1945.

Fritz Fischer, Germany's Aims in the First World War


My copy came today yesterday Thursday last week a while ago, via Amazon, Fritz Fischer, Germany's Aims in the First World War.

Book Review: Sharyl Attkisson, The Smear

At Black Five, "Sharyl Attkisson, The Smear."

And at Amazon, The Smear: How Shady Political Operatives and Fake News Control What You See, What You Think, and How You Vote.

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The 'Intersectionality' Trap

From Noah Rothman, at Commentary Magazine (via RCP):

Republicans didn’t always scoff dismissively at the self-destructive, reactionary, fractious collection of malcontents who call themselves The Resistance. The hundreds of thousands who marched in the streets following Donald Trump’s election once honestly unnerved the GOP. This grassroots energy culminated in January’s Women’s March, a multi-day event in which nearly two million people mobilized peacefully and, most importantly, sympathetically in opposition to the president. It was the perfect antidote to the violent anti-Trump demonstrations that typified Inauguration Day, and it might have formed the nucleus of a politically potent movement. The fall of the Women’s March exposes the blight weakening the left and crippling the Democratic Party.

The fever sapping Trump’s opposition was evident in microcosm on Monday in the meltdown of the Women’s March’s social-media presence on Twitter. “Happy birthday to the revolutionary #AssataShakur,” the organization wrote, dedicating the day’s resistance-related activities in her “honor.” Shakur is perhaps better known as Joanne Chesimard, the name that appeared on the court documents in connection with her being tried and convicted of eight felonies, including the execution-style murder of a New Jersey State Trooper. She currently resides in communist Cuba, a fugitive from American justice.

The outrage that followed the Women’s March’s endorsement of a cop-killer, exile, and unrepentant black nationalist was such that the organization was compelled to explain itself. “[T]his is not to say that #AssataShakur has never committed a crime, and not to endorse all of her actions,” the group flailed. “We say this to demonstrate the ongoing history of government [and] right-wing attempts to criminalize and discredit political activists.” This fanatical display of befuddlement perfectly encapsulates the logic of “intersectionality.” It demonstrates why this vogue ideology shackles its devotees to doomed causes and sinking ships.

“Intersectionality,” the beast born in liberal hothouses on college campuses, slouches now toward the halls of power. It is a Marxist notion that all discrimination is linked because it is rooted in the unjust power structures that facilitate inequality. Therefore, there are no distinct struggles against prejudice. Class, race, gender, sexual identity; these and other signifiers are bound together by the fact that oppression is institutional and systemic. The problem with this ideology is it compels its adherents to abandon discretion. To sacrifice anyone with a claim to oppression is to forsake every victim of prejudice. So, sure, Assata Shakur robbed, assaulted, incited violence, and killed a cop. But she also hates capitalism and white supremacy. Therefore, she’s one of us.

It is this logic that has rendered the “Sister Souljah moment” a relic of the past, and The Resistance is drowning in Sister Souljahs.

One of the March organizers, Linda Sarsour, has enjoyed newfound popularity and legitimacy in the age of Trump...
Keep reading.

Also at Twitchy, "Some big names in politics, media wondering who’ll condemn Women’s March’s praise of Assata Shakur; Updated."

Comic Book Retailers Sour on Comic-Con

I've never been.

This is interesting, though.

At LAT, "At Comic-Con, a major comics seller defects while new Hollywood stars arrive to dazzle fans":
Wielding sharpies, foam swords and protective tubes to guard the exclusive treasures they hope to find, more than a hundred thousand pop culture and comics aficionados are about to descend on the city of San Diego for Comic-Con International, the annual gathering for all things geek.

But for some longtime fans and retailers, a tipping point has been reached in the profitable but uneasy alliance between the comic-book world and Hollywood.

For the first time in 44 years, retailer Mile High Comics will be skipping the convention. Considered the country’s largest comic-book dealer, Mile High regularly brought 100,000 comics to sell on the convention hall floor.

“San Diego has grown far beyond its original premise,” wrote Chuck Rozanski, founder and president of the Colorado-based Mile High Comics, on the retailer’s website, “morphing from what was originally a wonderful annual gathering of the comics world, into a world-renowned pop culture and media festival.”

It’s no secret that Comic-Con went Hollywood years ago, but with each new convention it’s harder for independent comics retailers to make an impression, especially when they not only have to compete with major studio presentations in the famed Hall H and displays from DC and Marvel that dominate the convention floor, but with a growing number of attractions outside Comic-Con, available to anyone who happens to be in the area.

Offering tributes of buttons, T-shirts and manicures, the entire Gaslamp Quarter will transform into a geek metropolis. NBC’s new series “Midnight, Texas” will offer free food and tarot card readings at a local restaurant, coffee drinks will be renamed “White Walker Mochas” and the Syfy channel will legally marry superfans in a makeshift chapel with the help of officiant Orlando Jones from “American Gods.”

“As a businessman, I can tell you that the fact that the city of San Diego is allowing dozens of [attractions] around the venue is contributing to a decline in traffic in that main hall,” Rozanski told The Times. “The off-site traffic is good for fans because it enhances the experience. But when you have HBO putting their ‘Game of Thrones’ experience across from the convention center, that acts as a real magnet. As an exhibitor, when you’re paying $18,000 [for a spot on the convention floor] you don’t want to see your customers leave for across the street.”

The hard truth is that many of those potential customers would rather see their favorite stars than shop for comic books. As the masses sweep in, so do the winds of change for the annual convention...
I guess it really used to be about comic books. Now it's about Hollywood movies about comic books.

But keep reading.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Beautiful Tessa Fowler

Seen on Twitter.

Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig, Decisions for War

At Amazon, Richard F. Hamilton and Holger H. Herwig, Decisions for War, 1914-1917.

Fritz Stern, Gold and Iron


At Amazon, Fritz Stern, Gold and Iron: Bismark, Bleichroder, and the Building of the German Empire.

Terence Zuber, Inventing the Schlieffen Plan


At Amazon, Terence Zuber, Inventing the Schlieffen Plan: German War Planning, 1871-1914.

Once Started, Government Programs Are Hard to Kill

That's why you've got to crush these things before they become law.

Once you get a benefit, some constituencies will oppose reform, or elimination. ObamaCare is a disastrous law, but it helped some people while hurting a majority. Those who it helped are barking loudly, and could prove a key vote bloc in some states. Hence, a number of GOP senators are resisting repeal and replace.

It's a nightmare.

A good piece, at NYT, via Memeorandum, "Old Truth Trips Up G.O.P. on Health Law: A Benefit Is Hard to Retract."

Boyle Heights Coffee Shop Targeted by 'Anti-Gentrification' Activists

It's a small minority in the community, and they're going to hurt the neighborhood if successful.

This is really bad.

At the Los Angeles Times, "A community in flux: Will Boyle Heights be ruined by one coffee shop?":
As dusk settled over a mostly industrial landscape of warehouses covered with graffiti murals, Fernando Ramirez stood in front of the lone art gallery late Saturday afternoon and urged fashionably dressed visitors not to go inside.

“Don’t contribute to the displacement of the people in the community right here in Boyle Heights. Our rents are going up because of the art galleries,” he said. “Please do not cross the picket line!”

Ramirez, 38, had come to this desolate stretch of Boyle Heights with other protesters to once again declare war against a growing number of neighborhood art galleries and what he and other activists fear they foreshadow: a wave of gentrification.

On Sunday, a few miles east, a smaller group of protesters gathered outside a white storefront on Cesar Chavez Avenue with the word “COFFEE” painted in black.

Months after the activists won an apparent victory by pressuring an art gallery to close down amid what the owners called “constant attacks,” the protests against the galleries — and now Weird Wave Coffee — have illustrated both the demonstrators’ knack for annoying their targets as well as the limits of their tactics.

Along the gray desolation of Anderson Street, they have contended with sometimes well-financed galleries that can largely weather the disruptions. And on the busy stretch of Boyle Heights that houses Weird Wave Coffee, they have confronted residents who don’t take kindly to being told what to do or buy.

Anti-gentrification forces spent weeks trolling the coffee house on Instagram before and after it opened June 15. They held protest rallies outside the business, holding posters, including one that read “… White Coffee” and included an expletive, and another that said “AmeriKKKano to go.” They passed out fliers with a parody logo that read “White Wave.”

Some Latino residents who defended Weird Wave Coffee said they were called “coconuts” by activists. Brown on the outside, white on the inside.

“It makes us look bad,” Koda Torres said of the confrontational tactics used against the cafe. “The way they handle the situation of gentrification wasn’t appropriate. They were almost vandalizing their windows, harassing the customers, calling people sellouts and racists.”

But for the protesters, the stakes are too high for niceties. As they see it, if Boyle Heights is taken over by the forces of gentrification, then no other neighborhood is safe.

“It’s a threat to local businesses and it’s one more sign of gentrification that we need to defeat,” Leonardo Vilchis, director of Union de Vecinos, said of Weird Wave Coffee. “Otherwise this neighborhood is going to end up just like Highland Park.”

Early on in the battle against the galleries, protesters stormed into shows and threw detergent on patrons as well as the food they were being served, according to witnesses and news reports. The Los Angeles Police Department investigated the graffiti of one gallery that included an expletive and said “… White Art.”

The Eastside has long been a center of Los Angeles’ protest movements, whether it was residents marching against the Vietnam War in the 1970s or more recently demonstrating for immigrant rights.

But the activists who have fought against gentrification have so far failed to rally a large number of residents to their cause.

Some longtime residents like the rising property values and increased retail choices. Others are concerned about people being pushed out of the neighborhood. They also struggle to connect the dots, like the activists, between widespread gentrification and a cafe or art galleries in an isolated part of Boyle Heights.

“I don’t know the word ‘gentrification,’” said Nancy Garcia, 31, a Boyle Heights resident. “I know the word ‘displacement.’”

About 100 people, including Garcia, showed up at a separate rally activists organized last month at Mariachi Plaza to support mariachis and other tenants facing eviction from homes that will be converted into luxury apartments. The atmosphere was spirited but peaceful, with musicians playing in the background...

I guess one consolation is that these protests pit leftists against leftists, heh.

(Overall, though, I just see "anti-gentrification" as anti-progress. You've got bad people who want to bring down everybody else, rather than lift everyone up. Resist them).

Eloy Ortiz Oakley, California Community College Chancellor, Calls for End to Algebra Requirement for Non-STEM Majors

I know Eloy Oakley. Rather well, in fact. He was my college president for about a decade, then took the state chancellor's job last year.

Algebra is a huge hurdle. I suspect it's only a matter of time before the requirement's eliminated. Indeed, it's only a matter of time until GE math education is eliminated. That's the way it's going nowadays. Fewer and fewer difficult requirements (like being able to read and write at college level), and thus more assembly-line degrees delivered. Students literally can't pass basic critical thinking essay exams in my classes, but my teaching's an outlier. I don't care about getting great student evaluations. I'm not worried about being popular. My job's not on the line. I don't check "Rate My Professors." I just teach a rigorous curriculum and maintain high standards. Is that too much to ask? Apparently so, nowadays. You wouldn't believe how much push-back I get from all the "progressive" administrators, who will turn any issue or conflict into a civil rights case, almost always to the benefit of the student.

No wonder new teachers quit the profession after two years. It's so much hassle these days.

In any case, at the L.A. Times, "Drop algebra requirement for non-STEM majors, California community colleges chief says":
The chancellor of the California Community Colleges system says intermediate algebra should no longer be required to earn an associate degree — unless students are in the fields of science, technology, engineering or math.

Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley, who heads the nation’s largest community college system of 114 campuses, told The Times that intermediate algebra is seen as a major barrier for students of color, preventing too many from completing degrees. About three-fourths of those who transfer to four-year universities are non-STEM majors, he said, who should be able to demonstrate quantitative reasoning skills by taking statistics or other math courses more applicable to their fields.

“College-level algebra is probably the greatest barrier for students — particularly first-generation students, students of color — obtaining a credential,” he said. “If we know we're disadvantaging large swaths of students who we need in the workforce, we have to question why. And is algebra really the only means we have to determine whether a student is going to be successful in their life?

“I think there's a growing body of evidence and advocates that say 'no' — that there are more relevant, just as rigorous, math pathways that we feel students should have the ability to take,” he said.

Debate over algebra requirements has escalated in recent years. Failure to complete intermediate algebra has kept tens of thousands of California community college students in limbo each year, sparking contentious criticism of the one-size-fits-all math requirement in the state and much of the nation.

California State University administrators have been open to exploring alternative math pathways; they are consulting with faculty to determine which disciplines need to continue requiring intermediate algebra and which could be more flexible.

Oakley made the comments in an interview about a report released Monday that sets ambitious goals to improve student success.

The report by the Foundation for California Community Colleges noted that the state will need 1.1 million more workers with bachelor’s degrees by 2030 — but that only 48% of the system’s students earned a certificate or associate degree or transferred to a four-year university within six years.

“This anemic completion rate is a troubling sign for the overall health of California’s higher education and workforce development system,” the report said...

Technological Change and the Future of Nuclear Deterrence

Here's a change of pace for you, some strategic deterrence theory.

From Keir A. Lieber, and Daryl G. Press, at International Security, "The New Era of Counterforce: Technological Change and the Future of Nuclear Deterrence" (also in PDF):
Nuclear deterrence is based on the threat of retaliation. A nuclear arsenal designed for deterrence must, therefore, be able to survive an enemy first strike and still inflict unacceptable damage on the attacker. For most of the nuclear age, the survivability of retaliatory forces seemed straightforward; “counterforce” attacks—those aimed at disarming the enemy's nuclear forces—appeared impossible because the superpower arsenals were large and dispersed, and were considered easy to hide and protect. Today, analysts tend to worry more about the dangers of nuclear terrorism or accidents than the survivability of retaliatory arsenals. Nuclear deterrence appears robust.

Changes in technology, however, are eroding the foundation of nuclear deterrence. Rooted in the computer revolution, these advances are making nuclear forces around the world far more vulnerable than before. In fact, one of the principal strategies that countries employ to protect their arsenals from destruction, hardening, has already been largely negated by leaps in the accuracy of nuclear delivery systems. A second pillar of survivability, concealment, is being eroded by the revolution in remote sensing. The consequences of pinpoint accuracy and new sensing technologies are numerous, synergistic, and in some cases nonintuitive. Taken together, these developments are making the task of securing nuclear arsenals against attack much more challenging.

To be clear, nuclear arsenals around the world are not becoming equally vulnerable to attack. Countries that have considerable resources can buck these trends and keep their forces survivable, albeit with considerable cost and effort. Other countries, however—especially those facing wealthy, technologically advanced adversaries—will find it increasingly difficult to secure their arsenals, as guidance systems, sensors, data processing, communication, artificial intelligence, and a host of other products of the computer revolution continue to improve.

The growing vulnerability of nuclear forces sheds light on an enduring theoretical puzzle of the nuclear age. According to one of the leading theories of geopolitics in the nuclear era, the “theory of the nuclear revolution,” nuclear weapons are the ultimate instruments of deterrence, protecting those who possess them from invasion or other major attacks. Yet, if the theory is correct—that is, if nuclear weapons solve countries' most fundamental security problems—why do nuclear-armed countries continue to perceive serious threats from abroad and engage in intense security competition? Why have the great powers of the nuclear era behaved in many ways like their predecessors from previous centuries: by building alliances, engaging in arms races, competing for relative gains, and seeking to control strategic territory—none of which should matter much if nuclear weapons guarantee one's security? Although proponents of the theory of the nuclear revolution acknowledge this anomalous behavior, they attribute it to misguided leaders, bureaucratic pathologies, or dysfunctional domestic politics, not flaws in the theory itself.

Our analysis offers a simpler explanation for the disjuncture between the theory of the nuclear revolution's predictions and the foreign policy behavior of states: geopolitical rivalry remains logical in the nuclear age because stalemate is reversible. For nuclear weapons to revolutionize international politics—that is, to render countries fundamentally secure—the condition of stalemate must be enduring. Arsenals that are survivable today, however, can become vulnerable in the future. Nuclear-armed states thus have good reason to engage in intense competition, even if their own arsenals are currently secure. Stated differently, nuclear weapons are the best tools of deterrence ever created, but the possibility of acquiring disarming strike capabilities—and the fear that an opponent might do the same—explains why nuclear weapons have not transformed international politics.

The increasing vulnerability of nuclear forces also has several implications for nuclear policy. First, if nuclear forces are becoming easier to attack, then all else being equal, nuclear-armed states need to deploy more capable retaliatory arsenals to counter the growing risks. Whether one believes that a deterrent force must present potential attackers with “near-certain retaliation,” “likely retaliation,” or some other level of risk, improvements in counterforce systems require that retaliatory forces adapt—through better capabilities, increased numbers, or both—to maintain the same level of deterrent threat. Furthermore, the rapid rate of change in counterforce technologies increases uncertainty about adversaries' future capabilities, suggesting that countries will need to retain diverse retaliatory forces as a hedge against adversary breakthroughs.

Second, the increasing vulnerability of nuclear arsenals raises questions about the wisdom of future nuclear arms reductions. For decades, engineers have toiled to improve weapons accuracy and remote sensing capabilities. Meanwhile, arms negotiators have devised agreements to reduce nuclear arsenals, with the consequence of reducing the number of targets an attacker must destroy in a disarming strike. Either endeavor—improving weapons or cutting stockpiles—can be defended as a policy for promoting strategic stability, but taken together they are creating underrecognized vulnerabilities. The danger of nuclear arms cuts is exacerbated by improvements in nonnuclear means of attacking nuclear forces: for example, through precision conventional strike, missile defense, anti-submarine warfare (ASW), and cyber operations.

Third, the emergence of a new era of counterforce raises the question of whether it is wise, for the United States in particular, to continue improving nuclear and nonnuclear counterforce capabilities. On the one hand, improved counterforce capabilities could be invaluable in a range of plausible scenarios. Improved offensive capabilities could help the United States deter weak countries from initiating conventional conflicts or from escalating in the midst of war. Enhanced counterforce capabilities could also help protect U.S. forces, allies, and the U.S. homeland from nuclear attack if a conventional war did escalate. On the other hand, better counterforce could be a source of danger: not only might improved disarming strike capabilities—in any country's hands— increase the temptation to attack, but also potential victims of disarming strikes will seek to escape their vulnerability, thereby possibly triggering arms racing and incentives to strike preemptively.

Both views may be correct. The net benefit of decisions to enhance counterforce capabilities will therefore depend on the particular case. For countries that perceive a highly malign threat environment, face aggressive nuclear-armed adversaries, or have ambitious foreign policy goals, the benefits of developing advanced counterforce capabilities may outweigh the costs. For those countries that face a benign environment and have more modest goals, however, the secondary costs of enhancing counterforce may be too great. In any case, these contentious issues have not received sufficient attention; analysts and policymakers have largely overlooked the ways that rapidly changing technologies are eroding the foundation of deterrence.

The remainder of this article is organized as follows. We first discuss the key role that arsenal survivability plays in nuclear deterrence theory. Second, we describe the main strategies that planners employ to ensure arsenal survivability in practice. Next, we explore one of the major technological trends eroding survivability, the great leap in weapons accuracy, and illustrate how improved accuracy creates new possibilities for counterforce strikes. We then focus on the second major trend, dramatic improvements in remote sensing, and how the resulting increase in transparency threatens concealed and mobile nuclear forces. We conclude with a summary of our findings and their implications for international politics and U.S. national security.

Nuclear Survivability in Theory

At its core, nuclear deterrence theory rests on two simple propositions. First, countries will not attack their adversaries if they expect the costs to exceed the benefits. Second, nuclear weapons allow countries, even relatively weak ones, to inflict unprecedented levels of damage on those who attack them. Taken together, these propositions suggest that nuclear weapons are the ultimate instruments of deterrence: no conceivable benefit of attacking a nuclear-armed state could be worth the cost of getting hit with nuclear weapons in retaliation. As long as nuclear arsenals are survivable, that is, able to withstand an enemy's first strike and retaliate, nuclear weapons are a tremendous force for peace.

The theory of the nuclear revolution builds on the logic of deterrence theory and extends its implications. Because nuclear weapons make countries fundamentally secure, countries can escape the most pernicious consequences of anarchy. According to the theory of the nuclear revolution, once countries deploy survivable arsenals they no longer need to fear conquest. As a result, they can stop worrying about the relative balance of power; engaging in arms races; or competing for alliance partners and strategic territory.

Proponents of the theory of the nuclear revolution have always recognized the discrepancy between their theory's predictions and the actual behavior of countries in the nuclear era. The Cold War competition between the United States and the Soviet Union, in particular, is filled with empirical anomalies: extensive arms racing, intense concerns about relative power gains and losses, and competition for allies and control of strategic territory—all occurring at a time when the main adversaries appeared to be invulnerable to disarming strikes. World War III was averted, as nuclear deterrence theory would predict, but the transformation of international politics that advocates of the theory of the nuclear revolution anticipated never materialized. Today, nuclear powers still eye each other's economic power and military capabilities warily; strive for superiority over their adversaries in conventional and nuclear armaments; aim to control strategically relevant areas of land, air, sea, and space; seek to build and maintain alliances; and prepare for war.

The discrepancy between the theory of the nuclear revolution and the behavior of states stems from the theory's misplaced confidence in the survivability of nuclear arsenals.18 Proponents of the theory believe that nuclear weapons deployed in even moderate numbers are inherently survivable. Moreover, according to the argument, survivability is a one-way street: once a country deploys a survivable arsenal, it will remain that way. Yet, what if survivability is reversible?

If arsenal survivability depends on the uncertain course of technological change and the efforts of adversaries to develop new technologies, states will feel compelled to arms race to ensure that their deterrent forces remain survivable in the face of adversary advances. They will worry about relative gains, because a rich and powerful adversary will have more resources to invest in technology and military forces. They will value allies, which help contribute resources and valuable territory. Moreover, states may be enticed to develop their own counterforce capabilities in order to disarm their adversaries or limit the damage those adversaries can inflict in case of war. In short, if nuclear stalemate can be broken, one should expect countries to act as they always have when faced with military threats: by trying to exploit new technologies and strategies for destroying adversary capabilities. If arsenals have been more vulnerable than theorists assume, or if survivability and stalemate are reversible, then the central puzzle of the nuclear era—continued geopolitical competition—is no longer a puzzle.

We argue not only that stalemate is reversible in principal, but also that changes in technology occurring today are making all countries' arsenals less survivable than they were in the past. The fear of suffering devastating retaliation will still do much to deter counterforce attacks, but countries will increasingly worry that their adversaries are trying to escape stalemate, and they will feel pressure to do the same. Deterrence will weaken as arsenals become more vulnerable. In extreme circumstances—for example, if an adversary threatens escalation (or begins to escalate) during a conventional war—the temptation to launch a disarming strike may be powerful. In short, in stark contrast to the expectations of the theory of the nuclear revolution, security competition has not only endured, but also will intensify as enhanced counterforce capabilities proliferate...

Emily Ratajkowski for Allure U.S. (August 2017)

At Editorials Fashion Trends, "EMILY RATAJKOWSKI."

She doesn't seem to be having career problems, actually, despite her complaints.

Eniko Mihalik for Liu Magazine



She's also on Instagram, of course.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky

It's not Fyodor Dostoyevsky's birthday today. He was born November 11, 1821 (in Moscow), just four years after Jane Austen.

I have Crime and Punishment on the shelf next to my bed as well, but I've not read this one yet either. (I'm bad!)

Maybe soon.

Omar El Akkad's American War should arrive today (it was delayed in transit). I'm going to start that one right away, and then work on it simultaneously with Fritz Fischer's, Germany's Aims in the First World War, which is about half finished.

In past summers, I found myself staying up late, watching Jimmy Kimmel and perhaps "Nightline," and then binge watching "House of Cards" (last summer for that one).

But this summer I'm reading more, which I suspect is better. I don't think I've had as much a chance to do sustained reading since graduate school, and even then it was assigned reading, rather than where your whimsies take you.

I'm having fun. And that's what counts. YOLO!

Jane Austen's Birthday

I confess never reading Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, despite having a paperback copy on the shelf next to my bed. I had the best intentions years ago. As you know, I love classic books, and I make the effort to read highbrow literature. I've just never gotten around to this one, or any of her other books. Maybe soon.

In any case, shop this Amazon portal to her works. It's her birthday today. She would have turned 200, lol.

Hailey Clauson Wears Positively 'Smallest Bathing Suit' (VIDEO)

She's crazy hot, lol

At Sports Illustrated Swimsuit:

The Age of Detesting Trump

A surprisingly good piece, from David Bromwich, at the London Review of Books:
President Trump, monster and scapegoat, is too rash in his overall demeanour, too uncalibrated in his words and gestures, too ill-adapted to the routines of politics to carry credit even when he is speaking common sense. The Democrats tossed his idea that better relations with Russia ‘would not be a bad thing’ into the general stew of his repulsive ideas on taxes and immigration, and Republicans ignored it as an indigestible ingredient. For now, as Senator Dianne Feinstein of the Senate Intelligence Committee has acknowledged, there is no evidence to support the view that his attitude to Russia is part of a conspiracy that implicates him in Russian hacking of the 2016 election. That there are links between Trump and his real-estate friends and the Russian oligarchs is extremely likely: oligarchs of all nations, but Russia in particular, are the movers in that market, and Trump’s credit on Wall Street ran out long ago. Russian money is probably behind some of his precarious loans; and the Russian government keeps track of Russian money. But the US media, and a great many Democrats with them, have been running far ahead of the game and treating the connection as a certainty which ought to assure the collapse of the Trump administration in the near future.


The compulsion to convict Trump of something definite, something dire, even if not yet a criminal offence, reached a sort of climax on 25 June when an entire back page of the Times Sunday Week in Review was transformed into an enormous zero-shaped pattern entitled ‘Trump’s Lies’, under the byline of two reporters, David Leonhardt and Stuart A. Thompson. The dates of more than a hundred ‘lies’ were printed in boldface, the text of the lie in quotation marks and the correction in parenthesis. Most of the lies, however, were what anyone would call opportunistic half-truths, scattershot promises, changes of tack with a denial that any change had taken place and, above all, hyperbolic exaggerations. Trump uses words like ‘tremendous’ and numbers like ‘hundreds’ or ‘thousands’ in a way that evacuates them of all meaning, but this belongs to the category of rhetorical twisting and pulling in which all politicians indulge. His daft attempt to inflate the size of the crowd at his inaugural seemed an example of reality denial, but it becomes a lie, fairly so-called, when measured against his slander of those who conveyed the verifiable truth. Again, his statement that ‘we’re the highest-taxed nation’ was part of a spew, false and meant as a hyperbolic version of ‘our taxes are too high,’ a sort of statement that exacerbates (and panders to) the usual indifference to details among his followers: a bad thing in a president. But the Times article laid much stress on doubtful instances such as Trump saying that Obama had wiretapped him or that ‘the story that there was collusion between the Russians & Trump campaign was fabricated by Dems as an excuse for losing the election.’ He is mostly right, there, even if the word ‘fabricated’ is wrong; there had been no official notice about collusion until Comey’s announcement before the intelligence committee on 20 March; before that, it was a widespread rationalisation of defeat by the Democrats. And though the circumstantial links between Trump associates and Russia show that the story was not fabricated out of thin air, convincing evidence, to repeat, has not yet been made public.

‘Putin derangement syndrome’, as the Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi called it, has entered the culture with the irresistibility of a fast-spreading rash. The Late Show host Stephen Colbert went on a rehearsed rant directed at Trump, in which the element of self-parody vanished at a point somewhere before this sentence: ‘The only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin’s cock holster.’ The stand-up comedian Kathy Griffin posed with a bloody severed head in the likeness of Trump. Until 18 June the Public Theater in New York was performing a version of Julius Caesar in which Caesar was made to look and gesticulate like Trump. Of course it trashed the play, since you render the hesitation of Brutus unintelligible if Caesar becomes the odious Trump-monster instead of the dim, weak, vain and vaguely blustering man a little past his prime that the text portrays. Obsession with Trump has become an excuse for almost any vulgarity. Also for testing the third rail of fame in the cause of experimental valour and affected rebellion: Johnny Depp, introducing his film The Libertine at Glastonbury Festival, asked the audience: ‘When was the last time an actor assassinated a president?’ We are already used to seeing these provocations followed a day or two later by an apology as insincere as it is ineffectual.

The best recourse of sanity to those who would rather defeat Trump than disgust his supporters may be simply to recall that he has at his back the massed weight and momentum of the Republican Party. It doesn’t much matter who is making use of whom: they are not about to part company, while the Democrats have to defend the shrinking redoubt of just 18 of 50 statehouses and a respectable but thoroughly confused minority in Congress. It is Republicans today who see themselves as makers of a revolution. The recent Democratic presidents, at some cost to the character of the party, espoused an ethic of moderation and trimming compromise. Doubtless the same predisposition played a large part in Obama’s decision to suppress what he knew of Russian interference before the 2016 election. Presumptive stability was a good thing in itself: why roil people’s temper with one more irritation? They need to believe that the system works – that was how he scored it. The assumption anyway was that Hillary would win; and fear of a rigged election was Trump’s issue.

Nothing now would better serve the maturity and the invigoration of the Democrats than to give up any hope of sound advice or renewal from Bill or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama. They were pleasant to think about, but their politics have turned out wrong, and there’s nothing they can do for us now. Democrats have lost all four special elections since November; if Trump ran again tomorrow, there is a strong probability he would win. Michael Moore tweeted on 21 June, after the loss by Jon Ossoff, the latest Democratic hope, to a Republican opponent in Georgia: ‘DNC & DCCC [Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] has NO idea how 2 win cause they have no message, no plan, no leaders.’ An exclusive concern with the Russia connection may suggest that Trump is faltering now and shaken, but on 26 June the Supreme Court temporarily upheld his revised ‘Muslim ban’, a 90-day suspension of travel from six Arab countries, along with a 120-day ban on all refugees, except in cases where the applicant has a bona fide relationship to someone in the US. The anti-Trump left and centre may hope for vindication when the court hears the case argued in autumn, but this in truth is a tactical victory for Trump: by the time it comes up again, the designated time of suspension may have passed; and the ban was only meant to stay in force while the government carries out a reappraisal of its vetting process. You may curse Putin and Comey and misogyny and Wisconsin, but Trump is marching through the departments and agencies with budget cuts and policy changes that will be felt for years to come. Trump is the name of a cause and not just a person, and you can only fight him with another cause...

Remembering JournoList and the Leftist Media's Bag of Tricks

From John Sexton, at Hot Air, "Remembering JournoList and Progressive Media’s Bag of Tricks":
A couple weeks ago I came across an old article about Journolist which I found striking. In particular, I was struck by the ways in which some of the debates taking place among left-leaning journalists back in 2008 still seem to encompass the ways the left-wing media operates today.

For those who don’t remember it, Journolist was just a listserv created by Ezra Klein. The list was invitation only and was mostly made up of progressive journalists. In theory, the list was a kind of digital water cooler where like-minded people could talk to others in the field. That may have been all it was much of the time, but when candidate Obama got in trouble in 2008, it also became a place for partisans to discuss a coordinated media strategy.

Author Jonathan Strong wrote this particular piece about the Journolist response to a crisis in the 2008 campaign. Rev. Jeremiah Wright, as you probably remember, was the pastor of the church Obama attended. He was the pastor who married Barack and Michelle and the person who inspired the title of Obama’s book: The Audacity of Hope. Wright was also a far-left crank who regularly denounced America. From ABC News, March 2008:


Obama would eventually denounce Wright and quit the church in June, but in the interim, it seemed possible the issue could seriously damage his campaign. Journolist members discussed various ways to respond to the Rev. Wright story. Michael Tomasky (now at the Daily Beast) wanted members of the list to “kill ABC” and thereby kill the story:
Michael Tomasky, a writer for the Guardian, also tried to rally his fellow members of Journolist: “Listen folks–in my opinion, we all have to do what we can to kill ABC and this idiocy in whatever venues we have. This isn’t about defending Obama. This is about how the [mainstream media] kills any chance of discourse that actually serves the people.”

“Richard Kim got this right above: ‘a horrible glimpse of general election press strategy.’ He’s dead on,” Tomasky continued. “We need to throw chairs now, try as hard as we can to get the call next time. Otherwise the questions in October will be exactly like this. This is just a disease.”
Chris Hayes, then at the Nation and now an MSNBC host, gave an impassioned plea (which sounded a bit like Rev. Wright) suggesting people in the mainstream media simply refuse to cover the story at all...
Keep reading.

Heh. Good times, good times.

Santa Barbara Whittier Fire

It's up by Lake Cachuma. Been burning for well over a week now.

At the Santa Barbara Independent, "Whittier Fire Quiets Down Overnight: Crews Working to Contain Bear Creek Edge, State of Emergency Declared."

And at KEYT News 3 Santa Barbara, "State of Emergency and Local Emergency declared in Santa Barbara County," and "Whittier Fire burns 18,311 acres. Continued updates16 homes and 30 other structures destroyed."

Also, "AirTankers work to stop the spread of the Whittier Fire."

Video here, "LIVE CAM : Whittier Fire July 15, 2017."

The air-tankers used to fly overhead --- and I mean literally over the top of my head --- just about every summer when I was living up in Goleta, attending UCSB. Those dry mountains had wildfires every year, some catastrophic. There was always the threat that the fires would burn down the ocean-facing mountainside and wipe out the local foothill communities.

El Cajon Home of Reptile Lover Burglarized (VIDEO)

There are some evil people out there, and in this case, I think the suspect wasn't a stranger to this home.

Watch, at ABC News 10 San Diego, "Burglar steals lizard, poisons turtle tank":
EL CAJON, Calif. (KGTV) - A reptile lover is hoping to track down the ‘heartless’ burglar who stole one animal and killed another.

Emery Aranda, a pet owner and breeder, returned to his El Cajon home Wednesday to a devastating sight:  An unlocked back window forced open and a white powder tossed around his bedroom.

That powder, which may include ant poison he had in the house, was also tossed into Aranda's turtle tank. He saw his red-bellied turtles trying to swim to the surface, one of them dead. A few feet away, a cage was closed and his red monitor lizard missing.

While other items were taken from the home, Aranda has little doubt.

Aranda says the lizard was the most valuable animal in his collection, and that’s why he believes the intruder knew about his animals and targeted them.

Water Wheel: Deadly Flash-Flood in Arizona (VIDEO)

At the Water Wheel swimming hole, about an hour-and-a-half north of Phoenix.

At the Arizona Republic, "The Payson flash flood: How did this happen?":

It happened in a flash.

A wall of black water mixed with fallen trees, ash and debris swept away 14 people Saturday, killing nine, at a swimming hole at Cold Springs near Payson.

The search for another person, Hector Miguel Garnica, continued with no success Monday and was to resume Tuesday.

Sgt. Dave Hornung of the Gila County Sheriff's Office said finding Garnica alive would be a "miracle."

As searchers and investigators worked through the day, questions persisted, beginning with, "How did this happen? And could it have been avoided?"

Officials said they are not sure exactly what led to the flood, but attention turned to an area upslope of the flood site, where a wildfire blackened 7,198 acres in June along the Highline Trail.

“We’re actually still trying to evaluate whether damage from Highline Fire contributed,” said Carrie Templin, a spokeswoman for Tonto National Forest.

After a wildfire

Wildfires leave scars. Some of the scars are obvious — blackened stumps, charred hillsides, fallen trees — but others remain hidden from view.

One such scar is the sudden inability of the forest to absorb rain and runoff.

A summer monsoon storm can trigger flash floods such as the one that swept through Ellison Creek on Saturday. Ordinarily, vegetation, both dead and alive, mitigates the effects of heavy rain. The forest floor, full of trees, brush, grass, roots and duff, absorbs water, so that it moves downhill slowly.

Wildfire strips away brush and branches. Trees can be reduced to ash. Not only does that raindrop flow downhill without interference, it picks up speed.

“After fires, there’s nothing to stop that raindrop," Youberg said. "There’s nothing to slow down that velocity.

“There’s nothing there that breaks the fall.”

The result can be what happened on Ellison Creek — a deadly wall of water filled with mud, ash, rocks and trees, the flotsam of nature swept downstream.

Flash floods can develop miles away and come with no warning — it’s possible to be hit by rushing water under clear skies. The wall of water that struck Saturday was said to have been 40 feet wide and 6 feet tall...

Also, "Arizona swimming hole flash flood: What we know now."

Camila Cabello Stars in Guess Jeans Hot New 2017 Campaign

At London's Daily Mail, "She's worth it! Ex-Fifth Harmony star Camila Cabello sizzles in sexy crop tops and bustiers as she models in her debut campaign for Guess."

Monday, July 17, 2017

Tomi Lahren Gets the Final Word on 'Hannity' (VIDEO)

I think Sean Hannity wants to help Tomi Lahren's career. She seems to be working to get back in good graces on the right, attempting to be more conservative than everyone else, after her bogus appearance on "The View" earlier this year.

Watch, "Tomi Lahren: Let's Make the GOP Work Again."

Amber Lee's Sunny, Warm, and Humid Forecast

Actually, I think we're having a mild summer. I can't really remember any recent weather that's been unbearable in Irvine. Now inland's a different story. That super high-pressure heat wave a couple of weeks ago saw temperatures in Phoenix of around 120 degrees. But it's been just fine this last few days.

I'm reading and chillin', as usual. The Angels had the day off after taking their Sunday afternoon game against Tampa Bay and moving to 3 games back in the wildcard race. We'll see how that goes. It's a shame we can't get the Dodgers on TV. That damned SportsNet L.A. deal has messed up summer baseball in SoCal. The hottest team in the country and we can't even watch their games.

In any case, here's the lovely Ms. Amber, for CBS News 2 Los Angeles:

For the Last Six Years Helsinki Has Ranked in the Top 10 of the Most Livable Cities in the World (VIDEO)

At Theo's, "Hello Helsinki":

Afshon Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam

I can't get to this one right away, but for me this is must reading. I'm not as up on Iran as I should be.

At Amazon, Afshon Ostovar, Vanguard of the Imam: Religion, Politics, and Iran's Revolutionary Guards.
Iran's Revolutionary Guards are one of the most important forces in the Middle East today. As the appointed defender of Iran's revolution, the Guards have evolved into a pillar of the Islamic Republic and the spearhead of its influence. Their sway has spread across the Middle East, where the Guards have overseen loyalist support to Bashar al-Assad in Syria and been a staunch backer in Iraq's war against ISIS-bringing its own troops, Lebanon's Hezbollah, and Shiite militias to the fight. Links to terrorism, human rights abuses, and the suppression of popular democracy have shrouded the Revolutionary Guards in controversy.

In spite of their prominence, the Guards remain poorly understood to outside observers. In Vanguard of the Imam, Afshon Ostovar has written the first comprehensive history of the organization. Situating the rise of the Guards in the larger contexts of Shiite Islam, modern Iranian history, and international affairs, Ostovar takes a multifaceted approach in demystifying the organization and detailing its evolution since 1979. Politics, power, and religion collide in this story, wherein the Revolutionary Guards transform from a rag-tag militia established in the midst of revolutionary upheaval into a military and covert force with a global reach.

The Guards have been fundamental to the success of the Islamic revolution. The symbiotic relationship between them and Iran's clerical rulers underpins the regime's nearly unshakeable system of power. The Guards have used their privileged position at home to export Iran's revolution beyond its borders, establishing client armies in their image and extending Iran's strategic footprint in the process. Ostovar tenaciously documents the Guards' transformation into a power-player and explores why the group matters now more than ever to regional and global affairs. The book simultaneously serves as a history of modern Iran, and provides a crucial and engrossing entryway into the complex world of war, politics, and identity in the Middle East.

Brazilian Beauty Ana Paula Araujo (VIDEO)

At Sports Illustrated Swimsuit, "Brazilian Beauty Ana Paula Araujo Goes Topless in Tropical Brazil."

Tucker Carlson Takes on Max Boot (VIDEO)

I've been meaning to get to this, as well as Tucker's exchange with Ralph Peters, a portion of which is excerpted in the introduction.

Max Boot's scurrying away with his tail between his legs, if his response at Commentary is any clue. See, "Useful Idiocy: 'Realists' will take what they can get."

And actually, I think Ralph Peters is great. Max Boot, not so much.

Dana Loesch Decries Sexism Against Women Second Amendment Advocates (VIDEO)

On Stuart Varney's show this morning, at Fox Business Channel:

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BONUS: A.J.P. Taylor, Germany's First Bid for Colonies, 1884-1885: A Move in Bismarck's European Policy.

Billie Lourd Celebrates Turning 25 with Glitzy Backyard Pool Party with Pals Including Emma Roberts

This is how leftist Hollywood parties.

Not your average amenities, especially compared to folks in flyover country. Homosexuals, rainbows, and unicorns.

At London's Daily Mail, "Rainbows and unicorns! Billie Lourd celebrates turning 25 with a glitzy backyard pool party with pals including Emma Roberts":
Her 25th birthday birthday is actually today.

But Scream Queens star Billie Lourd decided to celebrate her quarter century a day early with a fun rainbow and unicorn-themed pool party for family and friends in a garden in Beverly Hills.

Among the guests risking the blow-up rainbow water slide were Billie's Scream Queens pal Emma Roberts, 26, and Teen Wolf star Colton Haynes, 29...

'Made in Chelsea' Star Lottie Moss in Lingerie

She's a British reality show star.

At London's Daily Mail, "Anything you can do! 'Newly-single' Lottie Moss poses seductively on a bed in sizzling sheer lingerie... shared mere HOURS after 'love rat ex' Alex Mytton posts sexy shirtless selfie," and "Newly single Lottie Moss brushes off split from ex-boyfriend Alex Mytton with a girls' night out... as she parties with his Made In Chelsea co-stars."

Also, "Hottie Moss! Kate's stunning little sister Lottie shows off her pert behind in skimpy bikini as she poses for ANOTHER racy holiday snap."

BONUS: At Taxi Driver, "Lottie Moss in White Lacey Corset."

Today's Forecast with Jennifer Delacruz

I watched "Game of Thrones" last night, like everybody else, I'm sure. And then I felt drowsy while reading. I'd gotten up yesterday at 6:00am for Wimbledon's men's final, and that threw off my normal sleep routine. (I didn't post on it, but Marin Čilić totally lost it during the second set. I don't know? Hold the bawling until the end of play. That's my position. He looked a little babyish. But then, I get it. It's the premiere stage, overcome by nerves, and all that emotion comes out. It just didn't look that good, and it didn't make for great play. Roger Federer was coasting. Too much so, in fact. Oh well. Maybe the guy will get some experience out of it and do better next time.)

In any case, here's the lovely Ms. Jennifer with today's forecast. Hot and muggy, especially inland, because we've got a lot of coastal moisture and humidity.

At ABC 10 News San Diego: