Robert K. Logan on The Origin and Evolution of Language
University of Toronto Physics professor Robert K. Logan on The Origin and Evolution of Language and the Emergence of Concepts
New Books in Public Policy
Dov Zakheim, “A Vulcan’s Tale: How the Bush Administration Mismanaged the Reconstruction of Afghanistan”
In his new book, A Vulcan’s Tale: How the Bush Administration Mismanaged the Reconstruction of Afghanistan (Brookings Institution Press, 2011) Dov Zakheim, former chief financial officer for the U.S. Department of Defense, describes his time as a Vulcan, one of the elite group of eight foreign policy experts who advised President Bush’s presidential campaign, most of whom later served in the Bush administration. Zakheim brings an insider’s perspective to the Department of Defense’s management of the War on Terrror, and is not afraid to call out people who were not up to the job. In our interview, we talked about why it’s so hard to get rid of Pentagon weapon systems, what “snowflakes” are, and why so many former Bush Pentagon officials have written books. It’s all there, and more, in Zakheim’s eye-opening new book.
New Books in South Asian Studies
Katherine McGregor, “History in Uniform: Military Ideology and the Construction of Indonesia’s Past”
Katherine E. McGregor’s book, History in Uniform: Military Ideology and the Construction of Indonesia’s Past (NUS Press, 2007), examines the historiographic projects undertaken by the Indonesian military as they fought to check threats-–perceived or otherwise–to their influence from a diverse array of opponents: political society, civil society, religious groups, communist groups, the global political situation. They produced official histories and textbooks- a good many of which were authored by Nugroho- built monuments, memorials, and museums, all to ensure that their version of an Indonesian national past won currency among the people over their rivals’ versions. For a little over three decades, they exercised a near monopoly over history writing in Indonesia. Their understanding of the Indonesian past is often contested. It is certainly not the only version, especially given the size and diversity of this sprawling archipelago. But it is a cohesive body of work that offers valuable insights into the minds of a section of Indonesians as they were at a particular point in time.
Shabbat Sermon: Many animals besides humans demonstrate generosity for the good of the colony or the herd. But human generosity can help individuals and communities that have little survival value for ourselves. From where does this impulse spring, and how can it be taken too far? What is the right balance of giving to others and strengthening ourselves?