Do Bloggers Dream of … 2012 Version

(Note: I opened this for comments, not sure why only one is showing – I’ll ask the experts.) A late Happy New Year to the Volokh Conspiracy and all its readers. I’d like to thank Eugene for the opportunity he extended me a couple of years to join his merry band; I’ve found it stimulating and intellectually exciting, and I look forward to blogging in the coming year. I’m grateful to him. Having a little down time on a plane ride to California, I thought I’d think aloud a bit about blogging topics I might take up this year.  (This is idly dreaming, not promising.)

One is a continuation of blogging I’ve always done on international law, institutions, and politics, ranging from national security to international organizations. I’ll continue blogging on the interrelationships between drone technology, targeted killing, and the future regulation of covert action (loosely speaking). But I plan to expand to include more writing around the more long-run of autonomous weapons systems and battlefield robotics. These topics track academic and policy writing projects in which I’m engaged already. Robotics and the law generally has caught my interest in a big way, and I plan to post on different ways in which areas and issues of law intersect with the development of robotics in ordinary life. In this I hope to highlight the work of others in this emerging field, while asking what robotics and the law will gradually come to mean.

My short book on US-UN relations, Living with the UN: American Responsibilities and International Order, is in final production and will appear in the next couple of months (yes, I know I’ve said this before, but at this point, it’s down to settling on whether to have jacket blurbs or not). My hope is that it will help inform at least slightly debate over international relations and law in the presidential election – to be sure, mostly as the Republicans would see things, but with observations that I hope would be relevant to any US policy official dealing with the institutional UN. It’s quite true that I imagine John Bolton would find it more persuasive than Susan Rice, but I think it has relevance in a world in which new great power relations and the rise of China are re-shaping many things. (Note to teachers of international organizations, IR, international politics, international law, etc., this modestly priced book from Hoover Press would make a great contrarian addition to your syllabus; you are likely to find it very wrong but, I hope, shrewdly so. It’s not law, but policy, and easily readable at the general reader and undergraduate levels. I’m not writing for international law professors.)

As a teacher of international economic law classes, as well as the co-author in a book project on financial regulation reform, I will be blogging more often than I have in the last year about financial regulation. My co-authored book project is aimed at a very particular level and discussion. Not offering a body of substantive prescriptions for regulation, category by category, or a topic by topic critique of Dodd-Frank – both of these have been done, very effectively. But instead heuristics for prudential regulators seeking to be, well, prudent.

But I also intend to use blog posts here at Volokh this year to explore some new or lightly touched-on areas. One of these is to continue and deepen the discussion of higher education and legal education, their business models and their reform in both their economic structures and curricular forms. I want to push this discussion to include something I think of great importance, and relatively neglected – the defense of the study of the traditional humanities, as well as a certain model of higher education that would require, above all, reform to the admissions process. This discussion is informed by a more abstract discussion that, again, I’ve raised occasionally here but want to pursue on its own – the theory of elites in a mass democratic society, and particularly the version of it referred to as “New Class” theory. It is social theory, unapologetically so, and one that raises the question of social theory as such, and critique of the peculiar tendency of both rationalist economics and behavioral economics to ignore the irreducibility of social and cultural structures – even “institutions” is frankly too contingent a term – and to account for them as such.

These latter topics have interested me for a very long time, and I have an idea – perhaps stretching into 2013 – to play with new publishing forms through e-books and Kindle. I think I’d like to experiment with taking some of my blogging on these latter topics – social theory, elites, the New Class, perhaps framed around the problems of higher education – and put together a short Kindle book, and see how that new platform works.

Well. That’s a lot, much more than I’ll manage to do, and I’m spending lots of time working on pedagogy for my courses, even ones I have taught for many years. But I’m going to try and do some more culture blogging – Baroque and early music, cello, books, and culture. Possibly even a return to Stendhal.

Meanwhile, however, we are about to pass over the White Mountain, in the White-Inyo Mountains that form the eastern wall of the Owens Valley, a peak only 200 or so feet below the top of Whitney across the valley in the Sierra Nevada. These are my favorite places in all the world – even at 38,000 feet, sacred air space. So, passing over a short range in the Sierras called the Inconsolable Mountains, Anderson is at some very pagan prayer.