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Aug 28, 2008 2:07 am

Thursday's Notes

Two years ago, I wrote about the troubled history of endowed chairs in higher education and the embarrassing historical memories they often perpetuate. In it, I failed to mention the Alger Hiss Chair for Social Studies at Bard College. It would have made a neat companion to the Richard Nixon Chair in Public Policy at Nixon's alma mater, California's Whittier College. Not to worry. The tradition continues. The University of Texas is proposing to establish a Charlie Wilson Chair in Pakistani Studies, in honor of the former congressman from Texas who aggressively promoted American aid to Afghanistan's mujahedin in their fight against the Soviet Union's occupation. Our colleague, Manan Ahmed, speculates that the Wilson chair might be located in the"Department of Unintended Consequences Emanating from Secular Fundamentalism." This is the same Charlie Wilson whose call for new leadership at a Texas anti-war rally on Monday yielded this gaff:"'We should be led by Osama bin Laden', he said, then quickly corrected himself. ‘I mean Obama and Biden.'"

Dushko Petrovich,"Handcrafted data," Boston Globe, 24 August, previews Audubon: Early Drawings, Introduction by Richard Rhodes, Scientific Commentary by Scott V. Edwards, Foreword by Leslie A. Morris, and discusses why, in our high tech era, specialists often prefer handcrafted illustrations. Hat tip.

Edward Kosner,"Inquiring Minds Still Want to Know," WSJ, 12 August, reviews Jack Vitek's The Godfather of Tabloid: Generoso Pope, Jr., and the National Enquirer.

John Lewis Gaddis,"Ending Tyranny: The Past and Future of an Idea," American Interest, September/October. Beyond the running drivel of Victor Davis Hanson's contemporary commentary, this may be the first attempt at a positive reappraisal of the Bush administration's legacy in foreign policy. Can you say the Stanford/Yale axis of hackery? Thanks to an unnamed Yale graduate student in history for the tip.

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