Monthly Archives: October 2010

Ending suicide terrorism

October 7, 2010
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Ending suicide terrorism

Despite a popular belief that suicide terrorism is the result of religious fanaticism, such attacks are really a calculated response to occupations by outsiders, according to Robert A. Pape and James K. Feldman in Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It. The book draws on exhaustively researched data on suicide attacks since 1980 in the Middle East, Chechnya, Sri Lanka, and around the world. The resulting picture is grim; as Pape recently noted, “Each month there are more suicide terrorists trying to kill Americans and their military allies in Afghanistan, Iraq, and other Muslim countries than in all the years before 2001 combined.” Nonetheless, based on this data, Pape claims, “we now have strong evidence that the narrative—that suicide terrorism is prompted by Islamic fundamentalism—is not true.” The real problem is the way American military force is deployed overseas. Steve Clemons, writing for the Huffington Post, agrees, “Can it be that American military bases abroad, usually thought of as ‘stabilizers’ in tough neighborhoods, are really the primary cause of radical terrorism against the US and its allies? That is what Robert Pape and James K. Feldman compellingly argue in their new book.” Noting . . .

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The Bourgeois Virtues of Mario Vargas Llosa

October 7, 2010
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The Bourgeois Virtues of Mario Vargas Llosa

Writing a pithy sentence about winning the Nobel Prize in literature is an exhaustive experience—what more can be said about this accolade of accolades whose booty (ten million Swedish kroner, or roughly 1.4 million dollars) could alter the life of even the most penniless penner of tales? The background story is well told: nineteenth-century arms manufacturer Alfred Nobel, for whom the prize is named, had the opportunity to read his own obituary, the unfortunately titled “The Merchant of Death is Dead,” eight years before his own death (the piece was meant for his deceased brother Ludvig). This transformative experience of embracing one’s own remembrance spurred Nobel to bequeath his assets via a series of prizes to those organizations and persons “who confer the greatest benefit on mankind.” One hundred and ten years later, here we are. This morning, the Swedish Academy awarded the Nobel Prize in literature to Mario Vargas Llosa (odds embraced by L Magazine), Peruvian novelist, journalist, and statesman whose playful approach and political engagement helped him to become one of Latin America’s most acclaimed modernist-realist writers. In recent decades, Vargas Llosa was perhaps most noted for his staunch neoliberal views, including a run for the Peruvian presidency . . .

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Into the future with the Chicago Manual of Style

October 6, 2010
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Into the future with the Chicago Manual of Style

The new 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style has once again assured that Chicago is at the forefront of the publishing world, our advice and instructions fully up to date with the latest publishing practices—and sometimes even beyond, as this question posed to the the all-seeing, all-knowing CMOS Q&A demonstrates: Q. Dear Chicago Manual of Style, If, by using a time machine to go back in time, I’ve inadvertently changed the future, is there a way to make that clear with my verb tenses when I write my note of apology to the universe? For example, how do I refer to an event that happened in the recent past (Mars mission, Cubs’ world championship), but, because I messed up the time stream in the more distant past, now didn’t happen and won’t ever happen? (This is purely hypothetical: I would never jeopardize all of history merely to save myself from a particularly unfortunate high school haircut.) A. As it happens, because this question is so frequently asked, CMOS is currently developing the “temporal transitive” for the 17th edition of the Manual. In consultation with the linguists and physicists of the Chicago Hyper Tense Committee, led by Bryan Garner, . . .

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Hayek and the “Tea Party canon”

October 5, 2010
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Hayek and the “Tea Party canon”

This summer’s unlikeliest hit book, F. A. Hayek’s The Road to Serfdom, continues to attract notice. Glenn Beck, the Fox News host whose endorsement of the book in June catapulted it up the best-seller list, recently used the book’s success as evidence that his “audience is devouring books like never before.” Over the weekend, the New York Times concurred with Beck and included Road in an article on the emerging “Tea Party canon.” Taking stock of Hayek’s pervasive influence on the current political landscape, the Times reported: Representative Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin, alluded to The Road to Serfdom in introducing his economic “Roadmap for America’s Future,” which many other Republicans have embraced. Ron Johnson, who entered politics through a Tea Party meeting and is now the Republican nominee for Senate in Wisconsin, asserted that the $20 billion escrow fund that the Obama administration forced BP to set up to pay damages from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill circumvented “the rule of law,” Hayek’s term for the unwritten code that prohibits the government from interfering with the pursuit of “personal ends and desires.” Justin Amash, the 30-year-old Republican state legislator running for the House seat once held by . . .

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Our Bodies, our Ack?!

October 4, 2010
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Our Bodies, our Ack?!

The halls of feminist pop culture were a-chorus with their final “Ack!” this past Sunday, when long-running comic strip Cathy ran its final installment. Illustrated and created by Cathy Guisewite, the strip and its single everywoman heroine capped off a thirty-four-year run, departing a world noticeably different from that of its November 1976 debut (though the passage of time in semi-ageless Cathy’s world had a tendency to be marked by promotions and new boyfriends, and of course, evolution of the four “guilt groups”: food, love, Mom, and work). In many ways Cathy aspired to be the archetypal late-twentieth-century career woman, less eye-candy than Transparent Eyeball for a generation that grew up with Jane Fonda, Our Bodies, Ourselves, and society’s changing pressure on and opportunities for working women. In a fitting end, the strip finished with Cathy announcing her pregnancy to her parents and tech-geek partner Irving, who quipped about viewing the sonogram on his iPhone. Love or hate Cathy, closing shop with an iconic pregnancy helps us remember something important about the comic’s origins. For ordinary women like Cathy, who came of age in the ’70s and ’80s, access to information about issues related to their own health—contraception, pregnancies, abortion—helped . . .

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Autumn Leaves

October 1, 2010
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Autumn Leaves

Image by Rebecca Anne @ Flickr . . .

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