Showing posts from June, 2014

Fukuyama - The Origins of Political Order.

Today's book review:
I have been a fan of Francis Fukuyama since reading The End of History and the Last Man. This book will be, for me, equally memorable. The End of History asks the question "is the human race figuring out how to better govern itself?" The Origins of Political Order traces the history of that noble endeavor from prehistory to the French Revolution. Why did some countries move further along the trajectory to liberal democracy than others?
I learned a great deal of political history. Like most of my (Vietnam) generation my formal history education made it from the Greeks to England and America with little or no consideration of the rise of other civilizations. In addition to supporting Dr. Fukuyama's thesis of political order this book would make a great senior high school text for whatever "history" and "government" courses are called these days.
I said "exhausting" as there is a lot of material covered. In support of h…

Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature

One advantage of being able to do nothing is the ability to read... My most recent review...

Since the Enlightenment philosophers have asked the question "what is the basic nature of man?" (Unfortunately back in those days women didn't count for much.) Unequiped with the modern tools of inquiry thinkers such as Hobbs (anarchic violence) and Rousseau (pacific ignorance) speculated and wrote on this question. What is the base state of the human character? What is "Nature" and what is "Nurture?" Even suggesting that "Nature" (genetic inheritance) plays a major role has gotten authors pillored - consider the reaction to The Bell Curve by the "correct" thinkers of the current age.
We have learned a lot since the days of Hobbs and Rousseau (and Marx, Lenin and Mao!) Steven Pinker's thesis is that the intellectual children of the Enlightenment have left us with three incorrect models of human nature: "The Blank Slate", "…

Fort Monroe

For Memorial Day I tried to visit Yorktown, VA. Well, the traffic was terrible but I finally got there. It was swamped with tourists. There was nowhere to park so I decided it was a trip I would take another day. On the way back to Little Creek I stopped at Fort Monroe at Old Point Comfort. The marina at Fort Monroe has been used for years by boaters coming up the Elizabeth River or heading down to the Intracoastal Waterway. I have never been there so I decided I would do the shore side evaluation of the facility. It is quite well protected as a place for fuel and a pump out. There are no other facilities near as it is still in the middle of the fort. (BTW the marina is now public.)

While there I discovered that Fort Monroe has a history from the Civil War. It was here that slaves trying to escape the South could find sanctuary and freedom. Quite a history.

A major problem for the Hampton Roads area is the size of the entrance channel. Consider that the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel i…