Fortunes of war

by John Q on August 26, 2008

Things have gone better than expected (certainly better than I expected) in Iraq over the past year[1]. On the other hand, things are going very badly in Afghanistan. For those, like me (and most at CT I think), who have supported the war in Afghanistan and opposed the war in Iraq, this raises some points to consider.

Most obviously, war is inherently unpredictable and dangerous, and there is no necessary correlation between the justness of a cause and its military success. That means, among other things, that launching a war (or revolution) on the basis of a cause that seems justified to those starting it, but which has little or no hope of success (indeed without strong grounds for expecting a good outcome after the inevitable loss of life on all sides is taken into account), is not glorious but criminally reckless.

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Good things about Los Angeles

by Maria on August 26, 2008

Some time back, I mentioned in passing that living in Los Angeles has never been my life’s dream. As of last week, I’ve lived here for a full year, and I’m glad to report I’ve mellowed on it a bit. Well, just the decision to put less energy into disliking it helped.

On another CT post of mine today, commenters geo and Delicious Pundit gently point out that it’s silly to hate on a relatively decent place like L.A. I agree. There are worse places to be dragged to by your job. It’s several months since I felt a true twinge of jealousy of a friend whose work took her to Astana for a few years (turns out they have quite good skiing nearby). L.A. has quite a few good things. Among them, Delicious Pundit exhorts me to “come to the Sunday Farmers’ Market in Hollywood and get some avocados and strawberries (Gaviotas, the kind that don’t ship), some tamales, and maybe some watermelon lemonade from the nice people who come down from Solvang.” Which sounds very nice indeed.

The best thing about L.A. is of course the weather. Nuff said. The first moderately ok thing about L.A. actually reminds me of Brussels: it’s a bit crap until you get used to it, but there are lots of good day trips and weekend trips to be made nearby in the meantime. So far, I’ve driven to Ensenada in Baja Mexico, Joshua Tree National Park, a couple of presidential libraries (both Reagan and Nixon are well worth a visit, whatever your political preferences), San Juan Capestrano, Santa Barbara and Solvang, and down the coast to L.A. from San Francisco. There’s no shortage of places to go from L.A., and they tide you over while you wait to find the city less soul-destroyingly ugly. Now that I’ve become indifferent to the strip malls and freeways, I’ve begun to like some of the nicer bits.

Good things about L.A.: many, many outdoor things, 5k and 10k runs every weekend that let joggers explore the city, some good cinemas and lots of cultural stuff scattered around a 30 mile radius. Life for me picked up an awful lot when I got a car and moved away from the office.

Bad things: well, let’s not focus too much on those, but I was surprised at how dirty the sea water is, and it’s a bit sad that so many good, independent book shops seem to be closing down at the moment. (Oh god, reading this back it sounds so Stuff White People Like, I’m mortified.)

I’m drawing a blank, but am sure there are plenty more good things, right?

Work related info-bleg

by Maria on August 26, 2008

This is the sort of information request that should be easily searchable, but any search terms I’ve thought to use have yielded a load of dross. So I’m turning to the collective brainpower of CT’s readers.

My beneficent employer, ICANN, has just opened an office in Washington D.C. (I’m still based in L.A., mope, boo, hiss). I’m here for a few days and just realised I don’t know what the authoritative source is for D.C. organizations is. Strikes me it’s the sort of thing we should have around the office.

When I worked in Brussels, it was easy enough to find comprehensive directories of trade associations, member state delegations, lobbyists, NGOs and the rest of the ragtag of organizations that gather around centres of political power. Does anyone know of a publication, ideally paper-based, with this info for Washington-based organisations? And where I might purchase such a tome?