Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Does limited war ever work?

The entire history of air power was written the very first time that a bomb was dropped out of an airplane in warfare.

The occasion was a small colonial war between Italy and Turkey, the date was 1911, and the place, curiously enough, was Libya.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Red in tooth, claw, and ink

As much as I try to shake my animal past, it still seems to follow me around. The Wall Street Journal asked me to review a new book about the purportedly "moral" lives of animals; you can read the entire resulting fulminations here, which includes a list of a few of my favorite books about animals and their behavior.

Here's the lede (as we say in the journalism biz):

Animal-rights campaigners have long sought to narrow the distance between humans and animals by showcasing appealing stories of humanlike behavior, emotions and mental processes in other species. People love apes that punch buttons on computer screens, elephants that paint pictures and parrots in possession of formidable vocabularies. These are staples not just of the animal-rights literature but of popular animal writing in general.
Nothing tugs at the anthropomorphic heartstrings, though, more strongly than accounts of compassion or altruism in the animal world. A spate of books by authors such as Steven M. Wise, Jeffrey Masson, Jane Goodall, Marc Bekoff and Frans de Waal accordingly offer up examples of animals acting not just intelligently but virtuously. Dolphins lovingly tend sick comrades, elephants grieve over the death of relatives, and apes stage daring rescues of people, injured birds or other beings in distress. continue reading

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Glib Historical Analogies Department

Nobody of course beats Professor Newt Gingrich when it comes to slinging the glib historical analogy. The other day, while making his pre-pre-pre-presidential-candidacy announcement, Gingrich declared that 2012 will be a historical turning point of momentous proportions without parallels in American history — save for two other occasions when the nation faced a great crisis, and a great leader came forth in its moment of need.