When anyone asked him where he came from, he said, "I am a citizen of the world."
-Diogenes Laertius, Life of Diogenes the Cynic

As the argument over imposing Western ideals upon the Middle East is waged, another related battle has resumed. Nearly a decade ago Martha Nussbaum wrote a seminal essay claiming that a cosmopolitan world-view should be fostered as opposed to one infused with patriotism. The role of a liberal education should strive for “the very old ideal of the cosmopolitan, the person whose primary allegiance is to the community of human beings in the entire world.”

Lee Harris has written a timely response to Nussbaum's essay. He feels that patriotism can inform and educate a populace while actually propeling it towards the cosmopolitan ideals that Nussbaum advocates.
"All imperial societies find it in their interest to promote the ideal of cosmopolitan values, by which they mean that of the dominant culture, in contradiction to the clearly inferior local values of those on the outskirts of the world".

Additionally, he feels that patriotism is more readily adept at handling the inherent conflicts that exist amongst peoples.

In fact, the whole attempt to frame the question as a choice between patriotism and cosmopolitanism turns out to be illusory, because it assumes that one may have an undivided allegiance to the community of all human beings on the planet, when in fact this is impossible as long as human beings are capable of dividing themselves into two conflicting camps — and it makes no difference what constitutes the source of the structural antagonism embodied in this conflict. Indeed, a cosmopolitanism that can clash with patriotism, such as Nussbaum envisions, is, for that very reason, no longer a genuine cosmopolitanism. It no longer speaks for those who remain loyal to their own country, and hence becomes a merely sectarian ideology — and hardly the universal and all-encompassing faith that it aspired to be.

What is the worldview that should be taken in these tumultuous times? Is it one that adheres to the notion that all humanity speaks with one voice and shares one dream? Can we advocate a universal system that fosters the betterment of man and acknowledges the inherent differences created by geography, tradition, and culture?
A defense of sports in time of war.
I can die in peace now that I know what Andy Garcia reads during his many moments of quiet reflection.


Akamai declines to help Al-Jazeera keep their site up. It's more than a little unfair to speculate as to the reasons, however it's worth remembering that Akamai lost their cofounder Daniel C. Lewin in the attacks of 9/11. My totally speculative guess would be that they are disinclined to assist an agency that some consider a mouthpiece for terrorist states.
A symposium on the difference between Judaism and Christianity on whether hate can be virtuous. An interesting read with important moral implications for a nation at war.
They tied explosives to the horse's legs?!?!!? No PETA protests?
Its nice to see that the notion of a hegemonic American culture is being discounted. Globalization isn't about forcing Disney's vision down the throats of the French. It's about shared ideas, values, stories, and interests.

In just a few years, Chinese will surpass English as the Internet's most-used language. According to a BBC poll, the most popular movie star in the world is not Tom Green. Rather, it's Amitabh Bachchan, an Indian actor you've probably never heard of. According to the British newspaper The Guardian, the top grossing movies for 2002 in Japan, Germany, Spain, France and India were produced in Japan, Germany, Spain, France and India, respectively.

Besides the fact that I don't think anyone in the West thought Tom Green was still alive, let alone the world's biggest movie star, it's a good read. Another nail in the coffin of the "McDonald's theory"
More reports from the Computer, Freedom, and Privacy conference in NY. CAPPS II apparently will collect more than just basic information about travelers.

(The) travel industry databases contain a wealth of information, including but not limited to whom travelers have shared a room with, what movies they watched, what they ate, and even whether they are grumpy or easy to get along with.

At least this administration is being consistent.
On some level I am glad Saddam is still alive. The world deserves to opportunity to try him for his crimes. It would be interesting to see if the US/U.N. rift can be in some way repaired by a joint effort to prosecute the man who so gravely impacted the partnership.
Wireless technology making the world better for humanity...


Dave Eggers is essentially the Harry Potter of the hipster set. People obsess over him and his work. Praising him, then chastising him for his numerous sins (selling-out, not selling-out enough, being too smart by half, caring too much, being too glib, too earnest). He is many things to many people but it's clear that his ability to get folks talking, reading, and arguing about literature is a good thing. This isn't an ode to the days before MTV and FoxNews, when people read and wrote and thought in complete sentences, however I am all for anything that gets people to care about literature. Oh, and Ruth Franklin at Slate thinks McSweeny's sucks.
Christine Cupaiuolo links to an interesting article from the Guardian about the evolution of "chick flicks". Even when done well, the chick flick suffers from the same double edge sword that afflicts all formula films; a universality that offers imprisonment in the guise of inclusiveness. According to Molly Haskell the chick flick offers a po-mo glibness towards the past that is ultimately fueled by nostolgic longing. "I'm emancipated but it's OK to long for romance, to get hung up on a guy, to obsess about mothers or children."
Speaking of hysteria based assaults on the liberties we take for granted, another side effect of the USA Patriot Act is that your DVR history is now fair game to the Feds. Seriously, will I get in trouble if John Ashcroft finds out that I have a Tivo season pass for Blind Date?
Andrew Sulivan points us to a NY Times correction that is incredibly illuminating. "A front-page article on Tuesday about criticism voiced by American military officers in Iraq over war plans omitted two words from an earlier comment by Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace, commander of V Corps. General Wallace had said (with the omission indicated by uppercasing), "The enemy we're fighting is A BIT different from the one we war-gamed against."
I have to say this makes the LA Times photo flap seem like nothing. Grain of salt people.
The hubris has no end.
Coming on the heels of Steven Brill's sometimes insipid, but always frightening, expose of the AG's trampling of American civil liberties after 9/11, we get this little reminder of the human costs of short sighted paranoia. Let's not forget, God knows how many material witnesses are being held without the high tech jobs, high-profile friends, and organized resistance employed on Maher Mofeid Hawash's behalf. America's silence was deafening when Patriot ActI was passed. It will be interesting to see our response going forward. Frankly I am not optimistic that the same people who sat and watched this happen in an impotent, self-protective, haze will be willing and able to mount the sort of vigorous defense of liberty this nation deserves. If that burden proves too heavy for us to bear, there's always Geraldo.


The Dynamist with a good call:
Reporters on Fox News Channel and MSNBC are displaying an exceedingly annoying habit of referring to Pfc. Jessica Lynch as just "Jessica" in news stories, the better to tug the viewers' paternal/maternal heartstrings. But Jessica Lynch is not the little girl who fell down the well. She is a U.S. soldier serving in harm's way. If you're old enough to be a POW, you're old enough to be referred to as "Private Lynch." Even if you're female.
Those patronizing anti-drug ads connecting recreational drug use with terrorism have been dropped. Its progress at least.
slate has been on lately. The Poetry of D.H. Rumsfeld is just classic.

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.
Those of you who live in the valley probably remember former Intel worker Ken Hamidi and his angry website. Now his email case has made its way to the CA supreme court. The limits of free speech and its application to email should make for an interesting ruling.


I am always shocked and awed by the amount of amazing work some people are able to produce. Chris Hitchens does it again in this piece from the Atlantic. He discusses the literary critics of Islam, the Good (Rushdie, Houllebecq), the Bad (V.S. Naipaul), and the Ugly (Oriana Fallaci). He reasserts the importance of the notions that some of us in liberal democracies take for granted, critical assement and open engagement. Of those who offer trite observations of Islam and gentle, non-offensive rebukes he chides, "This and other lapses are to be regretted, because Islam needs criticism more stringent than what it has been receiving from these writers"
Robert Wright asks the million dollar question, "Can the folks mismanging this war manage the peace". Again, this works from the premise that the war is being mismanaged. That may or may not be the case, but it's increasingly clear that our public relations efforts (read: diplomacy) are misguided.
Interesting story about which wireless standard to use in post-war Iraq. GSM is the standard in Europe (and will offer substantial profit potential for German and French telecom firms Alcatel and Siemens) A US congressman (from San Diego, home of Qualcomm) wants CDMS to be used instead.
Andrew Sullivan and Josh Marshall in a blog fight. It's not Ali-Frazier, but its pretty damn good.
How do Westerners view situations and ultimately think vs. Easterners? This is the subject of a new book “The Geography of Thought” which is discussed by the WSJ. This is important since it not only addresses the “inherent differences” in groups throughout the world it also undermines the notion that thinking is basically the same the world over. Good read.


U.S. News with the answer to a question I (and a lot of Americans) have had lately. Why do choppers go down so often?
Interesting read about the relationship between high-stakes, no-limit poker and the advent of game theory, and how both ultimately impacted war strategy.
Saddam gave copies of "Black Hawk Down" as a training and inspirational guide. I should insert a pithy or snarky comment here, but won't. Let's hope this is over soon.


And while we are talking about women's response to war, a big thanks to ninjagirl for pointing me to this "Feminist Take on War". Since Sundays should always start with a chuckle, here is the money 'graph:

Iraq, the religious and historical cradle of civilization, is a potent metaphor for femininity. It is the Fertile Crescent, the great mother womb which gave birth to inventions like the wheel, the art of writing and three of the world's far-reaching religions, Islam, Judaism and Christianity which share a common Abrahamic lineage. It is the home of archaeological treasures buried deep in the vast desert sands. It is the home of unheard weeping, suffering borne disproportionately by grandmothers, mothers and children.

The invasion of Iraq is a crime against all women, against all that is feminine and sacred

Uh, yeah. And Saddam having women raped in front of their families is a crime against whom?
Know your source. A guide to Fox New's Blonde Bombshell Brigade.