Books; The Looming Tower

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous' started by Spencer, Apr 30, 2009.

  1. Spencer

    Spencer New Member

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    Looked through the whole forum and couldn't find a thread on books. Swear we had one...

    Just finished The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright. Bit late coming to the party here but I just want to say it won a Pulitzer for a reason! Finally something has fully spelled out the al-Qaeda mindset and Islamist movement, its history, and implications for me.
     
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  2. Clevelandmo

    Clevelandmo Active Member

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    yeah, I seem to remember a thread or two on books. Started with someone asking for a book recommendation, I think.

    Anyway thanks for the mini-reveiw and suggestion. One book that I would like to read is "Save the World on Your Own Time" by Stanley Fish. It discusses why universities and professors should stay away from teaching politics, morality, civic responsibility, etc. and just teach critical thinking.
     
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  3. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

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    #3
  4. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

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    hmmmm; teaching critical thinking with no practical application and no measurable exercises in using critical thinking? This sounds strange. It's like saying we should teach quantum mechanics and not get bogged down in all that math and science.

    So, tell me, does this book actually recommend deleting political science, history, government, public administration, sociology, and philosophy from a university's curricula? Because, if that's the case, this already exists. It's called trade school.
     
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  5. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

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    Ohhh... RICH! Nice of you to co-mingle them to confuse the unwashed.
    Lemme parse:
    TRADE SCHOOL! What DOES a PoliSci major learn, Don?

    We HOPE that the student has enough Liberal Arts background to apply Critical Thinking to the subject.. and that they are allowed to.

    - subcurricula: var Lit courses, and applied criticism to them.

    Liberal Arts. The Core Curricula for 'Critical Thinking'...PROVIDED 'Critical Thinking' is actually encouraged and/or allowed.
    You wanna start a word war on that... we'll jump right into recent Univ of Delaware case.
     
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  6. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

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    why in the world would I want to discuss higher education with you? You are ignorant of what is taught there and what is learned there, and you positively rejoice in your ignorance.

    But here's a further question for Mo, isn't de-contextualizing critical thinking sort of like teaching hard sciences without labs? I'm asking Mo, because she went to a very good school and is passionate about the need for quality math and science education in schools -- as am I.
     
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  7. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

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    Well, there ya go... Critical Analysis THERE, Don! You shot me down point by point, as usual.

    Wonder if you see the irony in that.
     
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  8. Spencer

    Spencer New Member

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    Getting back to the book. There is a nice tie in. If you saw the news today surrounding the Senate hearings on water boardings and torture the testifying former FBI agent, Ali Soufan, who interrogated Abu Zybayda is a principal character in The Looming Tower.

    It is probable that had the FBI team Soufan was a part of had access to the CIA intelligence, they repeatedly requested but were denied, the 9/11 plot would have been disrupted.
     
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  9. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

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    If only Lincoln had listened to his secretary, Kennedy, and avoided the theater.

    If only Kennedy had listened to HIS secretary, Lincoln, and cancelled the trip to Dallas.

    If only I'd picked the correct set of numbers in last night's Texas lottery!

    You can go nuts trying to play that game, and the chances are you'll be wrong 99.999999999999% of the time.
     
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  10. pettyfog

    pettyfog Well-Known Member

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    I think we're talking about the particular circumstances and mindsets incorporated into the Criminal Justice mindset that led up to so many outright clues being ignored.
    Like the Gorlick barrier memo.. like the tabling of the Agents' warning on flight schools. Like the Rick Rescorla warning that AQ would try for the WTC again...because they had a record of that.

    But that's just me.. whatta I know!
     
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  11. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

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    I've often thought that there'd be a lot fewer conspiracy theorists and a lot less finger pointing if the average joe or the average reporter realized how many intelligence reports are produced in a given week. Having written a few that -- obviously -- didn't get forwarded up the chain [grumble, grumble], I know that the total flood of info that might or could mean something is hard to sift through and hard to assess the value of in real or near-real time -- that is, in a manner timely enough to make a difference.

    It's easy to take the trail and run it backwards after the fact and come up with "Roosevelt knew the Japanese were planning to attack Pearl Harbor" or "The Bush Administration had plenty of warning about Al Qaeda plans to attack," but every time someone near the top reads an intelligence report on a possible threat, there are about 500-1000 that he or she can't read because he/she is reading that one. We have an entire echelon of intelligence analysts who must decide in a matter of a minute -- like a battlefield triage nurse -- what needs to go immediately, what needs more information, and what needs to be ignored. It's an imperfect science, but our intelligence community is really good at it [except when they ignored me, grumble grumble].

    "Intelligence Failure" as an excuse is usually a bunch of crap. Our intelligence collection is TOO good. We gather so much that it can't all be processed in a timely manner. I will guarantee you that for every Monday-morning quarterback incident of "intelligence failure," there are 1000s of intelligence successes that don't get publicized.

    Bad things don't happen to us because our intelligence community is inept, or because an administration was not paying attention, or because somebody is secretly hoping that we do get attacked, so that more power can be grabbed. Bad things happen because there are bad people who want to do bad things. It is as impossible for any administration to keep us safe from all these people as it is for any administration to declare a war on terror and have a hope in hell of winning it.
     
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  12. Clevelandmo

    Clevelandmo Active Member

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    Wow 007! I actually completely agree with you in a rather lengthy post on goverment/politics. Didnt think I'd ever see the day.


    As for this:

    I think your quantum mechanics point is exactly the point that Stanley Fish is trying to make. Dont teach the conclusion, teach students how to reach their own conclusions. Instruct them in proper research, analysis, questioning, logic, writing skills, etc. In high school, I remember my history teacher saying the US WW2 Japanese internment camps were like the Nazi concentration camps. I was actually schocked because at the time I thought the Nazi concentration camps were the worst thing ever, but I've remembered it for all these years so it was actually a good teaching moment. However, rather than just make a statement like that she could've had us contrast and compare the two types of camps. We would have learned a lot of history in the process and would have been free to reach our own conclusion.

    I heard Stanley Fish interviewed on NPR and he applied this same reasoning to morality and ethics. Before hearing his points, I would have thought that applying the same thinking to basic ethics is going too far. However, he had some interesting points and that is why I want to read the book.

    As for this:

    Again, I dont think Fish is arguing that you de-contextualize history, social studies, or government courses. He thinks that you teach skills and assess the ability to analyze. I dont know how he thinks professors should handle the assessment of their students' abilities to support their conclusions or if he thinks conclusions arent neccesary - that is also why I want to read the book.

    As far as 'Fog's comments, I must admit I dont exactly follow what he is saying. However, we all know that there are a lot of useless courses in college and some shockingly useless people with college degrees. If more basics were taught and more rigor applied, this might not be true, or as true.
     
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  13. Spencer

    Spencer New Member

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    Yes.

    Don, these FBI guys knew what they wanted. The CIA was greedy about its intelligence and refused to give it to them. I wasn't talking about conspiracies or Bush knew crap. I'm talking about institutional bureaucracy, human error that is amendable, and a terrorist attack that was preventable.

    I would think no book does more to kill the conspiracy theories out there than this one.

    My original point in posting that was not any of this or that however but simply to demonstrate that this Soufan was the real deal.
     
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  14. Spencer

    Spencer New Member

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    Lawrence Wright has written an excellent in depth profile for last weeks NewYorker of Mexico's and perhaps the worlds richest man, Carlos Slim, and his peculiar interest in the New York Times. Unfortunately however you have to pay for all their online content.
     
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  15. HatterDon

    HatterDon Moderator

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    Carlos' brother Memphis was a hell of a blues guitarist.


    NEVZTER -- beat you to it!
     
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  16. Spencer

    Spencer New Member

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    Ali Soufan with a NYT op-ed today slayin the demagoguing pols in the best way possible.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/opini ... ?th&emc=th
     
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