Varieties of Barackrobatics II: The Unreality-Based Assertion

Max Boot analyzes President Obama's assertion in yesterday's interview given on an Arabic news channel:

America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that. And that I think is going to be an important task.
Boot recalls the actual state of affairs 20 and 30 years ago, and deems this, convincingly, to be ahistorical nonsense.

It's doubtful you can build a workable foreign policy based on misty-eyed claptrap. In his Inaugural Address, Obama promised to "restore science to its rightful place", but it would be nice if he showed some respect for history as well.

Southern Illinois U: Not Getting the Whole "Plagiarism" Thing

We blogged yesterday about the dreadfulness of Southern Illinois University, whose faculty and administration have exhibited a pattern of slovenliness, hackery, and disregard for both academic and American values. One major offense was the persistent plagiarism in the writings of high officials.

Now, in the you-can't-make-this-shit-up department, the Chronicle of Higher Education (quoted at the University Diarist) reports:

In 2007, after several high-profile plagiarism scandals, Southern Illinois University released a 17-page report on how to deal with the issue. The report includes a lengthy definition of plagiarism, explaining exactly what does and does not merit the dreaded "p" word.

One problem: That definition appears to have been plagiarized.

Is that irony? I can never tell.

The Diarist comments that SIU and Governor Blagojevich are peas in an Illinois pod: both "deep-rooted, unalterable national embarrassments."

URLs du Updike

  • Numerous bloggers are pointing out John Updike's marvelous 1960 essay on Ted Williams, Hub Fans Bid Kid Adieu".
    Fenway Park, in Boston, is a lyric little bandbox of a ballpark. Everything is painted green and seems in curiously sharp focus, like the inside of an old-fashioned peeping-type Easter egg. It was built in 1912 and rebuilt in 1934, and offers, as do most Boston artifacts, a compromise between Man's Euclidean determinations and Nature's beguiling irregularities.
    A must for Red Sox fans. Or baseball fans. Or writing fans.

  • Also worth reading for historical interest is Updike's 1989 Commentary essay "On Not Being a Dove", where he recounts his political out-of-stepitude with other inhabitants of his literary milieu.

  • Joel Achenbach has a nice essay on Updike. My only quibble is with this:
    How good was he? Well, no one as prolific wrote better, and no one better was as prolific.
    Seems clever, actually redundant. I know this because he used the same locution in talking about George Will back in 2005, which I analyzed here.