Rawls as Archaeologist

by Harry on December 12, 2007

This link will work for a very short time, I presume, but it’s curious to note that Samuel Freeman’s book on Rawls is currently ranked #9 in Amazon’s bestsellers list for titles in Archaeology. Why?

Archival Zotero-fication, or Possibly Vice Versa

by Scott McLemee on December 12, 2007

I like Zotero a lot. It makes collecting and organizing material from research online much easier than it would be otherwise. Plus they sent me a t-shirt after my column about it appeared, which pretty much amounts for all the non-book-related swag to have arrived in 2007.

Still, I have been somewhat irregular about working with Zotero. Required to give a more or less sensible reason for this, I could say that it is a matter of waiting for the 2.0 version, none too patiently. But the really deciding factor is that I still use Netscape, which is proving less rational or defensible all the time. Shifting over entirely to Firefox (of which Zotero is a plug-in) seems like a good resolution for the new year.

One factor holding up the 2.0 version — which will, it’s said, allow people to share documents — is the range of intellectual-property issues it would create. But at IHE this morning, Andy Guess reports that the Center for History and New Media is going ahead with the development of a Zotero archive into which scholars can deposit material, as long as it is public-domain.
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How Things Seep In

by Kieran Healy on December 12, 2007

A while ago, reflecting on approaching geezerhood, I said:

bq. Whenever I teach an undergraduate class, I ask the students what’s the earliest major news event they can remember. When I started teaching at Arizona, most students could remember the Challenger disaster. Then it was the fall of the Berlin Wall. Then the first Gulf War. Then Bill Clinton’s first-term election. At the moment it is the Oklahoma City bombing. Soon it will be the death of Princess Diana.

But this isn’t just a kids-these-days complaint. Today’s college freshmen probably don’t remember much about politics before President Bush, and the war as been going on for most of their teenage years. Combine that with the administration’s fine line in disinformational BS and, as Rob remarks in a comment elsewhere, this is what you get:

bq. I have now received three (3) student papers that discuss Iraq’s attack on the Twin Towers on 9/11. All three papers mention it as an aside to another point. I’ve had two papers on the virtue of forgiveness that argue that if we had just forgiven Iraq for the 9/11 attacks, we wouldn’t be at war right now. I just read a paper on the problem of evil which asked why God allowed “the Iraq’s” to attack us on 9/11. The thing that upsets me most here is that the the students don’t just believe that that Iraq was behind 9/11. This is a big fact in their minds, that leaps out at them, whenever they think about the state of the world.

What do we owe?

by Daniel on December 12, 2007

On the front page of the Times today, it appears that the UK is attempting to wriggle out of its commitments to Iraqi employees of the British Army, even as we’re preparing to leave Basra. Part of me wants to believe that this is a matter of bureaucratic callousness rather than anything else, but as Brad DeLong says, the Cossacks work for the Czar – if people in David Milliband‘s department are trying to wriggle out of a commitment that David Milliband made, then they’re doing it because he told them to, or because he doesn’t care whether they do it or not.

The last time we had a discussion of this on Crooked Timber, it turned pretty ugly pretty quickly, but I’m prepared to have another go. The general obligations of a country which is carrying out a morally unjustified war of aggression[1] to the locals of the country it is invading are set out pretty clearly in the relevant Geneva Conventions, but what special obligations exist to local employees?

Personally I think this is pretty cut and dried. On grounds of fairness, the invading power should not discriminate between its employees on grounds of nationality, so they have a duty to give local employees the same kind of protection against harm that they would one of their own citizens. On prudential grounds, it is fairly obvious that any country has a long-term interest in establishing a reputation for protecting its employees. I am not convinced by any of the arguments against, most of which seem to involve fairly empty assertions about whether people might have been accessories to war crimes, combined with a strange insouciance about whether these alleged offences should be prosecuted in a proper court, or enforced ad hoc by death squads.

If anyone wants to argue either side of the case, go ahead. If you end up being convinced by my view, then perhaps you’d care to express this opinion to the British government. As far as I can tell, the most effective means to doing this (by far – the difference to the next best alternative is orders of magnitude) is by writing a letter or email to your MP. Dan Hardie has got a lot of anecdotal evidence that these letters have made a big difference so far in preventing this issue from being swept under the rug. (Update: You could ask your MP to sign Early Day Motion 401, tabled by Lynne Featherstone MP, please).

Comments policy notice: Just to make it clear, although this is a genuine invitation to a discussion, it’s a sensitive issue and will be moderated with extreme prejudice. In particular, racial epithets won’t be tolerated any more than they are on other CT threads. I am not going to delete or disenvowel people just for using the word “traitor” or equivalent, but nor am I going to tolerate blatant trolling. In which context I remind readers that the requirement for a genuine email address with every comment is still there, and the fact that it’s not particularly consistently enforced is not something anyone should rely on.

[1] Albeit one that was probably legal within the strict terms of these things, which in my mind simply shows it’s already much easier to start a war than it ought to be.