Saturday, April 09, 2005


My son's team had its first game today. He has been anticipating the game with ever growing excitement for the past couple of weeks. Last night was dark, windy and disturbingly cool but the morning dawned warm and clear. The field where the game was held was the first place that the entire team has even been together; many had missed some of the practices and some had missed all of them. So we had to scramble (I'm the assistant coach) to figure out line-ups, substitution schemes etc. Of course discussing any sort of formation was utterly futile. No matter how many times we lined them up and spread them across the field, once the ball started moving around the field, it exerted, black hole-like, an irresistible attraction on all players who proceeded to gather around it in the stereotypical clump and kick away. The only exceptions were the goal-keepers (of course) and the last line of defense. Since the ball spent the vast majority of the game in the opposing team's half of the field, these four kids spent the time picking dandelions, kicking at the dirt and otherwise ignoring everything that went on except when we would frantically scream in their direction because the ball was hurtling their way. Our team won, 1-0. I suspect that the outcome of most games of 6-year-olds is pretty random. Still, a lot of fun.

And while I sometimes scratch my head at the sheer amount of time and energy that such events require--every kid had at least one parent at the game, some had both parents, siblings, and other relations--I think there is something to the notion of teaching kids how to operate within the limits of a system that has rules. Of course all too often the rules in the real world are broken by those who either have the wealth, connections and resources to avoid the consequences or those who have little to lose. But in the end I think that teaching kids to play by the rules is probably a good thing.

Go Wildcats!

UPDATE: I forgot to mention one indication that my six-year-old still hasn't quite figured out that he isn't the center of the universe: a few days ago he asked me, "will our game be on TV?"

Friday, April 08, 2005


Do they fiddle with admissions, wait-lists, and the like all in the hopes of inching up in the all-important USN&WR College Rankings? Those who tell these anecdotes would seem to conclude that they are. A snippet:
At just one or two schools, I would chalk it up to chance, but at this point it is clearly a pattern. The only explanation is that Georgetown, Penn, Michigan, and Chicago are trying to artificially inflate their U.S. News rankings by rejecting top candidates who are likely to turn them down for a more prestigious school. I feel as though my application fees have been stolen.
A handful of anecdotes do not a trend make. But on the other hand, I wouldn't be surprised if this and other attempts to manipulate the system are common practice. Of course the flip side is that potential applicants do their fair share of gaming the system as well. Let the games continue!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005


should be evident to everyone. Still, this summary of The Lord of the Rings is quite entertaining. This account has, apparently, snared at least one unwary reporter for the London Sunday Times. I looked up the article on Factiva just to make sure the reference wasn't a hoax as well. It appears to be the real thing. (h/t to Somewhere That's Green)


at this creepy, fascinating (in a I can't help but slow down to pass a car wreck sort of way) site. Granted that there is undoubtedly a good deal of artistic license being used here, this site and the secrets revealed/stories told therein seem to speak to a nearly universal human need to confess and seek ... seek what? Forgiveness? Resolution? Closure? Something else? (h/t to Michelle at A Small Victory)

Monday, April 04, 2005


My GW colleague Henry Nau tries to make sense of G.W. Bush's foreign policy:
Bush is unusual. He is a conservative internationalist. Europeans have heard of liberal internationalists, such as Bill Clinton. And they know about conservative nationalists such as Pat Buchanan or Ross Perot.

But they have probably never heard of conservative internationalists. Indeed they might think, as many liberal Americans do, that the term is an oxymoron.

Well, it's not. Conservative internationalists exist in the American diplomatic tradition, and Europeans - as well as liberal Americans - should recognize this school of diplomacy even if they disagree with it.
Nau goes on to point to an emphasis on freedom over stability; a tendency toward "instinctive and self-protective" unilateralism; a skepticism toward international institutions; and a preference for "selective internationalism" as hallmarks of this conservative internationalist approach.

What does this mean for North Korea?
Bush's approach to North Korea is similar. While delaying meaningful negotiations, the United States repositioned forces in South Korea (to make them less vulnerable to a North Korean attack) and created a new negotiating setup with the six-party talks. That setup gives the allies more leverage. Even if North Korea builds more nuclear weapons, what is Pyongyang going to do with them? As long as the other five parties stick together, the weapons serve only to isolate North Korea. Look how quickly North Korea rethought its decision this past month to flaunt its nuclear weapon capability and withdraw from the talks.
I think that Nau is correct that as long as the other five parties can present a unified front, the DPRK will make little headway in its saber-rattling brinkmanship (assuming that it what North Korea thinks it is doing). The problem is, of course, that the unified front is, to some extent, a hollow facade. But the DPRK has proven to be terribly inept in exploiting differences among the five parties.


according to Reuters:
North Korea wants an open and explicit U.S. apology for calling it an outpost of tyranny as a precondition for returning to nuclear talks, its senior envoy to the United Nations was quoted as saying on Friday.


"The conditions and justification for the six-party talks must be set up correctly, and that is for the United States to sincerely apologize for the 'outpost of tyranny' comment and withdraw it," the North's deputy U.N. ambassador Han Song-ryol was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency.

"This is an issue that the United States must apologize explicitly for," Han was quoted as saying, rejecting recent conciliatory comments Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice made during a recent swing through Asia.
Apologize for telling the truth? Of course life is always more grey than the Manichean black and white some what prefer it to be but if the DPRK is not an "outpost of tyranny," what is?

On the other hand, the DPRK demand really does speak to a core disagreement: is the U.S. willing to pursue a course that might result in peaceful co-existence with the DPRK, or is the American goal irrevocably the end of the North Korea? If it is the latter, why should North Korea bother to talk?

UPDATE: The U.S. wastes no time in dismissing this latest North Korean demand:
In a lecture at Seoul National University, U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Christopher Hill said the North's setting of conditions "was not helpful."


"What is the difference between a duck?"

"A football, because a bicycle has handlebars."

(found here).

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