Saturday, December 31, 2016

Semi Review Spew, 2016

Yes, 2016 was an awful year for actors, musicians, other celebrities, referenda, elections, democracy and refugees.  But, more importantly, was it a good year for me?  Ok, perhaps that is a bit much, but I have generally looked back at my year in blogging on or around New Year's Eve, and this has proven to be most useful for me when I need to track down notable old posts.  So, here we go again with the td/dr summary: the Spew had a better year than the stuff listed above.


The year started really with some experimentation--how to make good butter beer!  Glad I found this as it may inspire some more production before College Spew goes back to school.

One of the basic tendencies of 2016 was to trash millennials, so I am glad I started the year by pushing back against it.

My book was released and hit the top of a (specialized) bestseller list!  Woot!

I got to go to Japan!!!  I had never been before, never studied the place, but a trip organized by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not only educational but great prep for the research trip in October and again the one starting later this week.


It was a good month for book-talking, skiing, and seeing former students in their employed environs. All at the same time.

The interaction of social media and traditional media can be strange, so I should not have been surprised that interacting on twitter with one of the principal advisers to PM Justin  Trudeau would be covered rather, um, interestingly by newspapers in Canada.  And, yes, good book promotion!

I tried and mostly succeeded not to be baited by IR trolls, but failed when the topic was how to get tenure.


Ah, Whistler.

On the way back from Whistler, I learned that McGill's Shame continues.  Easily the post of the year in terms of hits.  It did lead to some media inquiries, but none of that went very far since the reporters could not get any victims on the record.  Of course, some folks questioned my motives.

It was a very interesting meeting of the International Studies Association, where the BDS issue got the most heat.  The discussion there and after about the lack of full professors who are women of color was most interesting and problematic for the profession.


What do Special Operations Forces wear if not boots?  A regular theme this past year and before was on how focusing on what combat is and isn't, what is a combat mission versus a special operations deployment, and on and on.

I pondered how/why NATO became a campaign issue.  Will Trump follow through? I hope not.

The plans for the Canadian Defence Review came out.  I was not a fan.  It turned out better than I expected in a variety of ways although we don't yet know what the product will be.

A recurrent theme: me scoffing at the idea of folks fleeing to Canada if US election goes sour.


I saw Professional Ultimate for the first time!

The use of pop culture to explain IR got much criticism, so I am happy that this post on the role of the UN in the Captain America: Civil War movie got some hits. The larger question of who guards the guardians became more relevant after Trump's victory and his general fascination with generals.

One of the nice parts of blogging--giving thanks to those who have helped me along the way.  Ben Schiff, my adviser at Oberlin, retired, so I noted his impact on me.  And, no, my beard and my shiny head should not be blamed on him.

I had engaged Bernie fans late in the month on twitter, and it kind of justified negative attitudes I held.  Of course, #notallBerniefans AND we need for the left, the liberals and the Never Trumpers to work together over the next four years. It is going to be mighty tough.


It was the 25th anniversary of my dissertation proposal, so we partied like it was 1991.

I finally made it to Arlington.

I should have known that my elections predictions would suck when my list of potential running-makes for HRC omitted the eventual choice.

Ah, crap, Brexit.

My take on the Defence Review Roundtable in which I participated.  Which was different from appearing before the Parliament's Defence Critic on the review.


Woot! Sabbatical starts!  Later in the month, I realized that I was on a mission (a foolish one, as I realized on November 8th), to reassure people that Trump was not going to win.

I got to go to the Warsaw Summit.  Ok, the experts's forum, but it was a blast!

Turkey's coup was no good for anyone, ultimately, even though it was handy for reminding people of the importance of civil-military relations (another 2016 theme).  Which reminds me of another July post--when supporting our troops goes too far.  And enough with Generals and Admirals as VP candidates.

I turned 50!


I took back Real America!

I took the Kobyashi Maru test and failed proudly!  Geek bucket list item, checked!

Good thing that whole Trump/Putin bromance was just a temporary thing.

Surprisingly, I am not a fan of the alt-right (aka Nazis)

Another 2016 theme--speculating about the new Canada UN mission (which still has not been announced as of Dec 31, 2016).


APSA! Woot! In my hometown!

I got my chain pulled so I got to trot out some of my research--grand IR theory is not in decline despite folks think.  Mostly, we have confirmation bias, recency bias, and bias bias about what was and is prevalent.

I was challenged to name poli sci books that would be of interest to military historians as part of my running battle with Tom Ricks about the relevance of my discipline. Ta da!

Throughout the summer and fall, I had heaps of posts about the election, and most making wrong predictions.  But this one was spot on--that given Trump's business history, I would not let him run a damn thing.


My October was spent almost entirely in Tokyo. I ate well, toured much, and learned a great dealWin, win, win. 

Lots of military jargon rankles people.  I don't mind so much as it can be handy shorthand, but I hate the third offset.

As a relatively well off academic, I still complained about the one percent problem--where much of the resources go to the very, very few.

NPSIA got accused of being too close to government. And I, of course, responded to the silly criticism.


I come home and am welcomed by the first publication from the new project!  Woot.

You might not have heard, but there was this election.... I made my prediction quite clear.  Oh my.  Not good, not good at all.  No, political science is not dead!  Much to do, but quitting is not one of the choices

What does it mean for NATO?  Nothing good.  I did make one policy recommendation for Obama, based on fears I had about what Trump and Putin might do before the new deterrence mission in East Europe begins, and it turns out that Obama and I are on the same page on this.

Meanwhile, Trudeau finally made a decision about the next fighter plane. Sort of, and I am not a fan.

A long running theme here has been #voterfraudfraud.  Who would have expected the winner of th election to scream "fraud"?  Well, maybe he is setting the conditions for yet more efforts to suppress the votes of likely Democratic voters (minorities, poor, students).  And his Attorney General nominee is certainly the guy for that job. 


As the transition process developed, I worried about the General problem, which does not seem so bad due too the tyranny of low expectations.  Trying to figure out the patterns, I had to conclude that Steve Bannon is driving the train so that he can blow up the government.  On the bright side, the kids are alright.  Also, who is really living in a bubble?

But don't bet on impeachment as the GOP has shown it is craven and fears alienating its hard right constituents.

Another regular theme: criticizing simple, attractive but dangerous ideas about how to intervene, especially in Syria.

Rogue One, woot!!!  It has made me think about the relationships between resistance and hope.

Appropriately, I ended the year and I will end this post with an explanation of why I do social media.

One could argue that blogging during an election year gave me ample opportunity to show how little I know, how wrong I can be and all that.  However, my take on this year of blogging is that I am very thankful I have an outlet for my views, that I appreciate the interactions my blogging has led to online and in person, and that I will keep on keeping on.  It might not be the Potterwatch, but it is the least i can do.

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