Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Keith Frankish in Aeon:
Great philosophy is not always easy. Some philosophers – Kant, Hegel, Heidegger – write in a way that seems almost perversely obscure. Others – Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein – adopt an aphoristic style. Modern analytic philosophers can present their arguments in a compressed form that places heavy demands on the reader. Hence, there is ample scope for philosophers to interpret the work of their predecessors. These interpretationscan become classics in their own right. While not all philosophers write obscurely (eg, Hume, Schopenhauer, Russell), many do. One might get the impression that obscurity is a virtue in philosophy, a mark of a certain kind of greatness – but I’m skeptical.
Stephen M. Walt in Foreign Policy:
When a shocking event like the Paris attacks occurs, we know how the world will respond. There will be dismay, an outpouring of solidarity and sympathy, defiant speeches by politicians, and a media frenzy. Unfortunately, these familiar reactions give the perpetrators some of what they want: attention for their cause and the possibility their targets will do something that unwittingly helps advance the perpetrators’ radical aims.
What is most needed in such moments is not anger, outrage, or finger-pointing, but calm resolution, cool heads, and careful thought. What happened in Paris is an untold tragedy for the victims and deeply offensive to all we hold dear, but we must respond with our heads and not just our hearts. Here are five lessons to bear in mind as we reassess the dangers and search for an effective response.
John Allen Paulos in Slate:
The present political and cultural climate seems to have led to an intensifying of the natural human tendency to hurl charges of hypocrisy at one another. Rather than partaking in this pleasant activity and pointing to the many current instances of political or personal hypocrisy, I’d like here to offer a partial defense of the notion.
Hypocrisy thrives on black-or-white, either-or thinking. Once we accept such dichotomies, we naturally look for the apostasies and hypocrisies of benighted people on the wrong side of the ethical or cognitive tracks but rarely for real understanding.
I have received my share of emails, for example, from people who have written (actually screeched in capital letters) that I’m a hypocrite because of some article, book, or column of mine that, let’s say, recommended a cost-benefit analysis of something they, and they thought I, held sacrosanct.
Conventional understandings would suggest that I hold liberal positions on most issues, but I’ve known many “liberals,” myself included, as well as many “conservatives” whose private actions and beliefs on some issues were on the opposite end of a spectrum (assuming that there is such a thing as a spectrum) from their public ones. As such, they are often judged to be hypocritical. Examples might be environmentalists who don’t recycle, libertines who rail against porn, gun-control advocates who have an arsenal of high-powered weapons in their basements, “pro-family” people with several marriages under their belts, etc. Are these people necessarily hypocritical, as commentators and biographers might be strongly tempted to say, or is it just easier to note their apparent conflicts than it is with other less “well-defined” people?
Rising above Pyongyang’s low skyline is the Ryugyong Hotel, which recalls the city’s ancient name, meaning “Capital of Willows.” Construction began in the late ’80s but came to a halt in 1992, as the North entered its post-Soviet famine years. The pyramid-shaped “Hotel of Doom,” as Western journalists call it, is sheathed in glass, but its interior remains largely empty and unfinished. As much as Pyongyang’s other landmarks, like the flame-topped Juche Tower or the huge bronze statues of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, before which onlookers are asked to bow and leave flowers in respect, the Ryugyong marks the city’s hallucinatory core.
An American friend and I had entered North Korea through Shenyang, China, a fast-growing provincial capital about five hours by high-speed train from Beijing. We were participating in a weeklong tour timed to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the 1953 armistice that paused, but did not formally end, the Korean War. As Americans, we were prohibited from entering North Korea by train. Instead, we boarded an Air Koryo flight from Shenyang’s modern airport and less than an hour later, after a quick drink service, arrived in North Korea’s capital, where we would meet the other members of our Canadian-led tour group.
One thing to notice, first, is that they did not target wealthy old operagoers, or fat plutocrats and their diamond-encrusted mistresses. They targeted the young, multiethnic, bohemians of Paris, people who likely have limited resources of money and endless capacity for the enjoyment of life. This is an image of a certain kind of Parisian life that is old and familiar enough for even the limited imagination of a fundamentalist to understand. As an ISIS communiqué issued Saturday morning announced, Paris was chosen in part because it is a “capital of prostitution and obscenity.”
Are the Eagles of Death Metal obscene? Well, sort of. They like to mix things up in ways they aren’t supposed to be mixed up. They are not obscene, however, in ways that many progressive Westerners of a liberal or leftist orientation understand this notion. They do not hoard wealth and resources and force others to live in abject poverty. They do not help to maintain impediments to the health, well-being, and social integration of refugees and other marginalized communities. These are varieties of obscenity with which ISIS is significantly less concerned. Their precise aim in the Paris attacks was to eliminate the very people who serve as a check on rampant xenophobia and violent reaction in France: to kill the utopia of the young multicultural bohemians who believe, above all, in happiness.
Perhaps the foremost characteristic of our age, what sets it apart from all others before it, is that the sheer volume of images of the world—not just the world of the past, but also, and perhaps especially, that of the present, the world of which we are a part—is so massive. Any event, anywhere on the planet—an earthquake, a plane crash, an act of terrorism—will be available for us to view only moments later, in on-the-scene images we see and consider as we go about our day-to-day lives, stuck in our tailbacks of traffic, as we make our coffee, visit the bathroom, wash our clothes, prepare our meals, set our tables. Usually, we keep these different levels of reality apart, or at least I do. Even the worst disasters are something I merely register, with varying degrees of horror, as if the world outside were a film, a play, a performance, of concern to me only in the most superficial manner. At the same time, and more profoundly, such images provide a release insofar as they allow me the freedom of never having to be entirely present in my actual surroundings, in the routine state of boredom they constantly threaten to dull me with, since one’s attention is continuously being directed toward something else, to what is happening right now: the occurrence, the event, the news item.
But then, occasionally, albeit remarkably seldom, what happens is that the two levels of reality converge and become one. Last time it happened was this autumn.
Mathews et al in Nature:
The ease of use, accuracy and efficiency of the genome-editing tool CRISPR/Cas9 has led to its broad adoption in research, as well as to preliminary applications in agriculture and in gene therapies involving non-reproductive (somatic) cells. It is also possible in some jurisdictions to deploy CRISPR/Cas9, and related techniques1, in human germline cells (sperm and eggs) as well as in early embryos2. In September, a network of more than 30 scientists, ethicists, policymakers, journal editors and funders called the Hinxton Group gathered in Manchester, UK, to address the ethical and policy issues surrounding the editing of human genomes in the early stages of development and in germline cells (see go.nature.com/xikxv2). Similar meetings have been and are being held elsewhere in the world, and several position statements have been published (see, for instance, go.nature.com/enfxjz and go.nature.com/fes1wc).
...Establish a model regulatory framework that could be adopted internationally. Various groups, including ours, agree that numerous technical and safety issues need to be addressed before genome-editing technologies could feasibly be used in reproductive clinical applications. Many also share our strong conviction that basic research involving genome editing should not be halted or hampered. Such studies are likely to have tremendous value, including in human-reproduction applications that do not involve genome editing, and potentially in the development of treatments using somatic cells.
Tara Parker-Pope in The New York Times:
Once personal health technology meant little more than bathroom scales, thermometers and electric toothbrushes. Now, these devices and apps are everywhere: on our wrists, in our phones, the bedroom, the kitchen, even on our children and pets. In this special issue of Science Times, we explore the lives of newly wired consumers and the consequences, good and bad, that arise from our increasing reliance on trackers, monitors, guides and a vast array of other devices to better our health.
Health consumers are counting steps, measuring heart rates and tracking sleep. The Consumer Electronics Association estimates that device makers will sell more than 40 million personal health and wellness devices this year; sales may reach $8 billion by 2018.
- Apps to Improve Your Swing, Lift or Stride
- Assessing the Fitness of Wearable Tech
- Five Ways Your Smartphone Can Help Your Health
Home meals are now high-tech affairs: a number of apps and devices aim to make cooking less complicated, helping users source healthful ingredients and stick to nutritious diets.
“You cannot know the I of Me
unless you crack the I of thee”
The Three Christs
Waiting for the Norwegian poet to read
her poems, you delineated the differences
between you and her by pointing to Jesus.
Her version, you said, was radiating outwards,
wave and astral particle, revelatory energy
and blinding light, inherently metaphysical.
Your version, however, was dusty and dog-
tired, having walked too long too far in feet
that ached, in draggled robes, in desperate
need of a hot bath, bread, a goblet of wine,
something to take his mind of those carping
apostles, those omnipresent Roman soldiers.
Sitting here, alone, looking out at the play
of sun and shadow on crenellated ferns,
I’m conjuring a third Christ, neither weary
nor luminous, but one who lives nowhere
save within me, indwelling life illimitable
that I will remain estranged from so long
as I insist on insisting, on putting my own
pleasure, which is all I know deeply or well,
first. A Christ who wears my body’s garment.
Raise the stone, there thou shalt find me;
cleave the wood and there I am. Let not
him who seeks cease until he finds. When
he finds, he shall be astonished. Astonished,
he shall reach the Kingdom. Having reached
the Kingdom, he shall (shall he? shall I?) rest.
by Ravi Shankar
from Green Mountains Review,
Vol. XXIV, No. 1, 2011
Tuesday, November 17, 2015
Richard Holmes in the New York Review of Books:
There are many William Blakes, but mine arrived with the tigers in the 1960s. The first line I ever read by Blake was not in a book, but laid out in thick white paint (or should I say illuminated) along a brick wall in Silver Street, Cambridge, England, in 1968. It was not poetry, but prose: “The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.” It sent a strange shiver down my spine, as it did for thousands of other university students in England and America that year.
It turns out that, according to The New York Times of December 28, 1968, exactly the same line from Blake’s “Proverbs of Hell” appeared on big posters at the conference of the Modern Language Association in New York. According to the Times it signified that “Radical Agitation Among Scholars Grows,” and it led to several arrests.
This of course was the time of radical disturbances on university campuses across Europe, as well as Vietnam War and civil rights protests in America. Very quickly we all seemed to be reading Blake’s preface to Milton.
When scientists falsify data, they try to cover it up by writing differently in their published works. A pair of Stanford researchers have devised a way of identifying these written clues
Bjorn Carey at the Stanford Website:
Even the best poker players have "tells" that give away when they're bluffing with a weak hand. Scientists who commit fraud have similar, but even more subtle, tells, and a pair of Stanford researchers have cracked the writing patterns of scientists who attempt to pass along falsified data.
The work, published in the Journal of Language and Social Psychology, could eventually help scientists identify falsified research before it is published.
There is a fair amount of research dedicated to understanding the ways liars lie. Studies have shown that liars generally tend to express more negative emotion terms and use fewer first-person pronouns. Fraudulent financial reports typically display higher levels of linguistic obfuscation – phrasing that is meant to distract from or conceal the fake data – than accurate reports.
To see if similar patterns exist in scientific academia, Jeff Hancock, a professor of communication at Stanford, and graduate student David Markowitz searched the archives of PubMed, a database of life sciences journals, from 1973 to 2013 for retracted papers. They identified 253, primarily from biomedical journals, that were retracted for documented fraud and compared the writing in these to unretracted papers from the same journals and publication years, and covering the same topics.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb in Politico:
Policymakers and slow-thinking bureaucrats stupidly let terrorism grow by ignoring the roots. So we lost a generation: Someone who went to grammar school in Saudi Arabia (our “ally”) after September 11 is now an adult, indoctrinated into believing and supporting Salafi violence, hence encouraged to finance it — while we got distracted by the use of complicated weapons and machinery.
Ali Gharib in The Guardian:
The distended Republican presidential field’s response to the terror attacks in Paris is a conglomeration of policy proposals that look something like this: a ground invasion of Syria and Iraq that will explicitly be less careful about killing civilians, combined with a policy of relief for refugees only if they’re Christians. One can almost see the Islamic State’s top ideologues and propagandists celebrating. And why not? Muslims the world over, which Isis views (wrongly) as a sea of potential recruits, could be forgiven for viewing the Republican rhetoric as a declaration of holy war against their co-religionists. I wish my thumbnail descriptions of Republicans’ talking points were a joke, but they’re not. And the policies described by the candidates line up almost exactly with the image of America that Isis seeks to portray in its propaganda. The target for Isis’s messaging was made abundantly clear in a statement last month from the group: “Islamic youth everywhere, ignite jihad against the Russians and the Americans in their crusaders’ war against Muslims,” said Isis spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani.
Florida senator and Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio might as well have had this very idea in mind when he said, repeatedly, of the fight against Isis: “This is a clash of civilizations.” Rubio relished in his identification of Isis as an “Islamic” group – a notion President Barack Obama disavowed yet again on Monday morning:
When I hear folks say that, well, maybe we should just admit the Christians, but not the Muslims ... when I hear political leaders suggesting that there would be a religious test for which a person who’s fleeing from a war-torn country is admitted, when some of those folks themselves come from families who benefited from protection when they were fleeing political persecution, that’s shameful.
Florida governor Jeb Bush, who has otherwise taken to defending his brother’s legacy, however ahistorically, even disavowed George W Bush’s proclamations that the “global war on terror” wasn’t “against Islam, or against faith practiced by the Muslim people”.
Cornell biomedical engineers have developed specialized white blood cells they call “super natural killer cells” that seek out cancer cells in lymph nodes with only one purpose: to destroy them, halting the onset of cancer tumor cell metastasis. “We want to see lymph-node metastasis become a thing of the past,” said Michael R. King, the Daljit S. and Elaine Sarkaria Professor of Biomedical Engineering and senior author of a paper in the journal Biomaterials. For tumor cells, the lymph nodes are a staging area in the body and play a key role in advancing metastasis throughout the body. In the study with mice, the biomedical engineers killed cancerous tumor cells within days by injecting liposomes (spherical vesicles that can act as carriers) armed with TRAIL (Tumor necrosis factor Related Apoptosis-Inducing Ligand). The liposomes attached to “natural killer” cells — a type of white blood cell — residing in the lymph nodes.
Inducing cancer-cell suicide
King says these natural killer cells in the body became the “super natural killer cells,” which found the cancerous cells and induced apoptosis (cell suicide). The cancer cells self-destruct and disintegrate, preventing the lymphatic spread of cancer any further by “completely eliminating lymph node metastases in mice,” said King. In cancer progression, there are four stages. At stage I, the tumor is small and has yet to progress to the lymph nodes. In stages II and III, the tumors have grown and likely will have spread to the lymph nodes. At stage IV, the cancer has advanced from the lymph nodes to organs and other parts of the body. Between 29 and 37 percent of patients with breast, colorectal, and lung cancers are diagnosed with metastases in their tumor-draining lymph nodes — those lymph nodes that lie downstream from the tumor — and those patients are at a higher risk for distant-organ metastases and later-stage cancer diagnoses. In January 2014, King and his colleagues published research (see “Piggy-backing proteins ride white blood cells to destroy metastasizing cancer“) that demonstrated that by attaching the TRAIL protein to white blood cells, metastasizing cancer cells in the bloodstream were annihilated. “So, now we [also] have technology to eliminate lymph node metastases,” King said. He said human testing of the TRAIL drug could be done “short of a few years from now.”
Wrinkled skin. Age? Must be three or four hundred
Like dark circles beneath the eyes, the western
Hemisphere engraved on the shell, so extraordinary
But absolutely silent now after all those wars
Won’t listen, won’t speak, won’t look either
We only gather in a crowd every evening
Eating small portions of that old story
Vanished phrases, broken words, missing letters
Still we eat the story, sharing it amongst ourselves
Thousands of years ago, in some race or the other,
Once, yes, once, I had defeated the hare.
from Chhotoder Chiriyakhana
Ananda Publishers, Kolkata, 2013
translation: 2015, Arunava Sinha
Monday, November 16, 2015
by S. Abbas Raza
Some of my nieces and nephews are now at an age where they sometimes call me to ask how to cook simple Pakistani dishes (Pakistani cooking is the same as Northern Indian cooking, while the cuisine of South India is very different) and this gave me the idea of writing a cookbook specifically for South Asian students in the West who miss home-cooked food. I am quite proud of the book since it seems that it does what it claims to do quite well, which is teach complete beginners how to cook this kind of food. About forty people (about half South Asian and the other half hailing from countries in four different continents) have tested recipes from the book and I am pleased to report that their responses were unanimously very positive. Here is the Foreword from the book, written by my friend and 3QD colleague Robin Varghese:
A Scotsman with a colorful brogue first taught me to cook the food of North India and Pakistan. He himself had worked in an Indian restaurant in Glasgow. That was when I was in graduate school, half a decade following my freshman year when I wish I had learned to cook South Asian food.
Following this unlikely education, I would regularly ask my mother for recipes for my favorite of her dishes. But the sequence of my learning was wrong. I hadn't learned the basics first, and without them, my cooking would never evoke home.
Many of you who are reading this now are probably very far from South Asia. More to the point, you are very far from your family kitchen and cook. Chances are that you find yourselves somewhere rather alien, and what you really need is something that conspires to make your new surroundings, to borrow from a poet, "assume the furniture of home". And since, for most of us, nothing creates the sense of home better than a dish that tastes of home, what you could really use is a cookbook that lets you recreate the food you miss.
Abbas has written that cookbook, but it is meant to be more than that. For those of you who are far from India or Pakistan, what you have is a way back for a time. For those of you from elsewhere, the pages that follow will allow you to get a solid foundation in the basics. And most of us—South Asian and non-South Asian alike—could do with a foundation in the basics.
When I say the basics, I mean the basics, and here that simply means, reliable, and perfectly repeatable recipes and techniques. A lot of cookbooks these days start off "against" authenticity, push impermanence, and celebrate "new expressions". But the basics come well before and that is where we all should start.
Abbas once asked me if I've ever made the same curry twice. (Yes, he plays a culinary Parmenides to my Heraclitus.) While I'd like to think I can, I don't truly know if I have. He asked me this because making the same spot-on queema or chicken salan or rice again and again is second nature for him. Once you're done with this book, it will be for you too. In any case, as you will soon discover, Abbas is very good at explaining things.
Here is a website for the book where you can learn much more about it and also get a copy:
My wife and I had great fun cooking and testing all the recipes and photographing all the finished dishes (it took a few months), and we had even more fun one day (with my friend Georg Hofer) making an extremely silly book trailer video in the beautiful dolomite mountains just a few minutes from where I live. You might be amused to notice that I am also nervously flying the drone which is doing the photography. :-)
by Tasneem Zehra Husain
The development of [my] thought-world is in a certain sense a continuous flight from wonder.
We are marked in large part by our celebrations: what we celebrate, and how we choose to do so, says a lot about who we are. As a global society, we seem to be increasingly fascinated with genius, and almost sixty years after his death, Einstein continues to be emblematic of this phenomenon. Over time, he has become larger than life - more myth than man.
In the annals of physics, Einstein's footprints are everywhere; his contributions as various and scattered as if they too, were subject to the brownian motion he elucidated. Along most paths he trod, he left staggering achievements in his wake. Einstein made crucial contributions to a nascent quantum theory, his incisive explanation of the photoelectric effect was so brilliant, it won him the Nobel Prize, and yet, most physicists, if asked to name Einstein's definitive work, would unblinkingly pick general relativity. The theory celebrates its hundredth birthday in a couple of weeks, and festivities are underway across the globe.
Over four successive Thursdays in November 1915, Einstein presented his (still developing) theory to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in Berlin. He laid down The Formal Foundations on 4 November 1915, and worked feverishly every day, polishing and honing the theory, coaxing out some of the gems that lay hidden within, until finally, on 25 November he unveiled the spectacular Field Equations of Gravitation.
"Hardly anyone who truly understands it will be able to escape the charm of this theory," wrote Einstein in this final paper, and his remark has stood the test of time, just as well as his equations have. The General Theory of Relativity is a work of unparalleled beauty; in fact, it exemplifies what it means for a physical theory to be beautiful, and is often quoted as the canonical example of such.
There is an air of inevitability about general relativity, which Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg equates with beauty. "In listening to a piece of music or hearing a sonnet one sometimes feels an intense aesthetic pleasure at the sense that nothing in the work could be changed, that there is not one note or one word that you would want to have different," he writes. It is so with general relativity. No idea or symbol seems extraneous or out of place.
by Paul Braterman
For disrespectful blogging and criticism of the religious authorities, one thousand lashes, to be administered 50 at a time. A fine of one million Riyals (roughly £170,000). 10 years in jail. If, like me, you have been wondering what horrible crimes could merit so severe a punishment, now you can find out.
I across a selection of Raif Badawi's writings in my local Waterstone's, and see that it has been published in the US, UK, and Canada, and that it is also available in French, German, and Italian. I do not know if there is an Arabic version; if there is, it will certainly not be available in the author's native Saudi Arabia. However, the attempts to silence Badawi have ensured him a far wider audience than he could ever have thought possible.
Having read the offending blog posts, I am shocked. Not because they are strident, or violent, or opposed to religion, or subversive of government, but because they are none of these things, and yet have attracted so extreme a reaction.
A brief foreword to the book (see below) is followed by a short preface, by the bilingual TV journalist Constantin Schreiber. This places Badawi's writings in context, and describes how the hopes he expressed in the days of the Arab Spring have been dashed by events. Unlike Schreiber, I am neither an Arabic speaker nor an expert on events in the Middle East, so I am doing my best here using the English language translation and my own limited background knowledge. If I have been guilty of any mistakes or misinterpretations, I hope that better-informed readers will point these out.
The first piece is a plea for freedom of thought and expression, using a quotation from the Quran itself in support. The second, a complaint against censorship and the outrage synthesised to justify it, begins with the unconsciously prophetic words
Many of the Islamist activists of Saudi Arabia dream of the return of an era along gone: they fantasize about the times of the caliphs. Those caliphs were known to banish and murder their opponents.… The modern Islamists hope history will repeat itself.
Indeed, we now once again have a self-styled caliph, at the head of the entity known as Daesh,  that now of all times needs no further discussion by me.
— thoughts on Charlie Hebdo, and Kenya and Beirut ...and Paris
everything ever written or said
everything drawn or played or sung
every headline that cried or bled
every fresco, every poem
everything wrung from our cranial sponge
every inky insult flung
every instrument ever made
every expletive blasted from lungs
every face on a canvas hung
every righteous canto prayed
…. that pounded the planks of heaven’s floor
every school Kalashnikov-sprayed
every smartass quote with bite
every thought of rich or poor
every Icarus grasping at height
…. whose waxy wings soon came apart
every joke and laugh and snort
every misbegotten poison dart
every sentiment or thing
…. that burst from brain’s well-tensioned spring
every sura, gospel or verse
every prayer that followed a hearse
every love, lost or won
every song and every hum
every murmuring merciful must
that reached the sky or bit the dust
are not of a glad or angry God
…………………..but of life that thrusts,
from inner to outer, the stuff of us
by Akim Reinhardt
In the 150 years since the end of the U.S. Civil War, the Republicans and Democrats have maintained a relentless stranglehold on every level of American politics nearly everywhere at all times. While a handful of upstart third parties and independent candidates have periodically made waves, none has ever come close to capturing the White House, or earned more than a brief smattering of Congressional seats. Likewise, nearly ever state and local government has remained under the duopoly's exclusive domain.
Why a duopoly? Probably because of they way the U.S. electoral system is structured. Duverger's Law tells us that a two-party duopoly is the very likely outcome when each voter gets one vote and can cast it for just one candidate to determine a single legislative seat.
However, in order to maintain absolute control of American politics and fend off challenges from pesky third parties, the Democrats and Republicans needed to remain somewhat agile. The times change, and in the endless quest to crest 50%, the parties must change with them.
Since the Civil War, both parties have shown themselves flexible enough to roll with the changes. The Civil War, the Great Depression, and Civil Rights era each upended the political landscape, leading political constituencies to shift, and forcing the Democrats and Republicans to substantially and permanently reorient themselves.
Now, several decades removed from the last major reshuffling of the two major parties, we may be witnessing yet another major transformation of the duopoly as the elephant and the donkey struggle to remain relevant amid important social changes. The convulsions of such a shift are reflected in the tumultuous spectacle of the parties' presidential nomination processes.
If America And The West Got The Hell Out Of The Middle East, There’d Be No Terrorism. It’s That Simple.
by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash
Redouble our efforts to fight ISIS?
No. How about the exact opposite?
Why not stop fighting ISIS? Why not let America and the West — the former colonial powers — get the hell out of the Middle East, and let those troglodytes fight their own battles among themselves?
Let me state the plain truth: if we got the hell out of the Middle East, the terrorists would get the hell out of our lives.
So, please, sil vous plait: let them have at one another in their horrorshow dance of damnable death without us helping anyone kill anyone else.
Let ISIS have their damn Caliphate.
Let Syria fight itself empty of people, where they cannot feed themselves because of a drought brought on by climate change anyway, with millions fleeing the country (from 22 million people, they're now down to 16.6 million, with millions in neighboring refugee camps, or on their way to Europe, or already there).
Let Saudi-Arabia clobber Yemen, and keep treating its women like shit, and keep publicly beheading people for blasphemy and witchcraft, and stone women to death for adultery, and continue being the worst state on planet Earth (naturally, we are their best friends, which probably makes us the second worst state on planet Earth).
Let the Taliban battle the corrupt leaders of Afghanistan.
Let the Iraqi Shiites continue giving their Sunnis hell, so ISIS keeps growing.
Let Israel do battle with Hezbollah and the Palestinians on their own till the day there are more Arabs than Jews in Israel, when the Israelis will finally have to give up and make a deal.
Nick Brandt. Elephant, 2008.
Strained Analogies Between Recently Released Films and Current Events: Spectre and the Republican Primary Debate
by Matt McKenna
James Bond, like most action heroes, is a conservative protagonist. Even as the other characters in the film--both friendly and hostile--deride 007 for sticking with his outmoded methods of problem solving (blowing stuff up, shooting everybody, etc.), Bond stoically carries on, winning the day without the expectation of apologies from his doubters much less thanks from those he saves. Of course, Bond's attitude makes a lot of sense for an action movie hero. Instead of shooting down aircraft to stop nefarious organizations, can you imagine the snorefest that would ensue if Bond attempted to solve problems diplomatically? Thankfully, director Sam Mendes stays true to the franchise's legacy in his second Bond film, Spectre. While the movie drags towards the end, especially during the perfunctory scene in which the villain (Christoph Waltz) blathers exposition while torturing Bond (Daniel Craig), the opening action sequence alone warrants the price of admission. If you can manage it, the best viewing strategy is to buy a matinee ticket for Spectre then clandestinely head into another auditorium to see a better movie immediately after the helicopter fight scene ends. I realize this plan may go against movie theatre policy, but don't you think it's quite Bond-like?