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Rebuilding Afghanistan

by Tariq Ali from the London Review of Books blog P.J.Tobia’s photographs of these monstrous buildings in Kabul convey only part of the horror. Their location is not too far from the slum dwellings that house the poor of the city, sans water, sans electricity, sans sewage, sans everything. A young photo-journalist from Philadelphia, Tobia supplied the [...]
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The Courtesy of God

by Garret Keizer from Lapham’s Quarterly The devil you say These days what the Epistle of James says about believing in God—that the devils believe in him too, ergo beware of taking too much credit for your credos—is often on my mind. God may or may not be in his heaven, but on any given week he is [...]
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Toward a Theory of Surprise

by Chris Bachelder from Believer Three mornings a week I drop off my three-and-a-half-year-old daughter at her daycare center. We have a routine. First we read a book, then we hug, kiss, high five, and wave before I leave. That’s how every drop-off goes. One recent morning she squirmed throughout the book, distractedly performed our separation ritual, [...]
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The Pictures of War You Aren’t Supposed to See

By Chris Hedges from truthdig.com War is brutal and impersonal. It mocks the fantasy of individual heroism and the absurdity of utopian goals like democracy. In an instant, industrial warfare can kill dozens, even hundreds of people, who never see their attackers. The power of these industrial weapons is indiscriminate and staggering. They can take down apartment [...]
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‘First they called me a joker, now I am a dangerous thinker’ // Slavoj Zizek talks to The Times of India

Slavoj Zizek is an unusual philosopher with unfashionably inflexible left-wing views. He also loves Hollywood classics. The 59-year-old academic has written more than 30 books on subjects as diverse as Alfred Hitchcock, Lenin and 9/11. A self-proclaimed Leninist, the Slovenian thinker believes that “communism will triumph finally”. On his first visit to India this week, [...]
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Untitled Video on Lynne Stewart and Her Conviction, The Law, and Poetry (2006) // by Paul Chan

[vodpod id=Groupvideo.4433985&w=600&h=400&fv=file%3Dhttp%3A%2F%2Fubu.artmob.ca%2Fvideo%2Fflash%2FChan_Paul_Lynne_Stewart_2006.flv] On February 10, 2005, Lynne Stewart was convicted of providing material support for a terrorist conspiracy. She is the first lawyer to be convicted of aiding terrorism in the United States. Stewart faces thirty years of prison and will be sentenced in September 2006. Untitled… is a video portrait of Stewart. The video focuses on [...]
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In the next decade, I hope to become more radical

by Costas Douzinas from The Guardian How different things looked in 1900 and 2000. The end of the 19th century was drowned in fin de siècle gloom. The end of the 20th century was, on the contrary, exuberant. President Bush Sr triumphantly announced in 1991 that a “new world order” was coming into view in which “the [...]
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Evangelicalism and the Contemporary Intellectual

A panel discussion with Malcolm Gladwell, Christine Smallwood, and James Wood, moderated by Caleb Crain. Watch here.
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The Darwin Show

by Steven Shapin from The London Review of Books It has been history’s biggest birthday party. On or around 12 February 2009 alone – the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth, ‘Darwin Day’ – there were more than 750 commemorative events in at least 45 countries, and, on or around 24 November, there was another spate of [...]
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Wanting to Be Something Else

by Adam Shatz Who could resist the charms, or doubt the importance, of a liberal, secular, Turkish Muslim writing formally adventurous, learned novels about the passionate collision of East and West? Orhan Pamuk is frequently described as a bridge between two great civilisations, and his major theme – the persistence of memory and tradition in Westernising, [...]
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Mandates of Heaven

by Lewis Lapham from Lapham’s Quarterly This issue of Lapham’s Quarterly doesn’t trade in divine revelation, engage in theological dispute, or doubt the existence of God. What is of interest are the ways in which religious belief gives birth to historical event, makes law and prayer and politics, accounts for the death of an army or the [...]
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Yes, It Was Torture, and Illegal

Editorial from The New York Times Bush administration officials came up with all kinds of ridiculously offensive rationalizations for torturing prisoners. It’s not torture if you don’t mean it to be. It’s not torture if you don’t nearly kill the victim. It’s not torture if the president says it’s not torture. It was deeply distressing to watch the [...]
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Uncovering Céline

by Wyatt Mason from The New York Review of Books 1. Louis-Ferdinand Destouches met Cillie Pam in Paris, at the Café de la Paix, in September 1932. Destouches was a physician who worked at a public clinic in Clichy treating poor and working-class patients; Pam was a twenty-seven-year-old Viennese gymnastics instructor eleven years his junior on a visit [...]
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Skepticism via YouTube

by Tim Farley from CSI In the summer of 2008, Georgians Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer claimed to have found a Bigfoot carcass. These claims were initially made via a number of YouTube videos that garnered significant attention in the cryptid community. In August 2008, they partnered with well-known cryptozoology personality Tom Biscardi for a national press [...]
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Night

by Tony Judt from The New York Review of Books I suffer from a motor neuron disorder, in my case a variant of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): Lou Gehrig’s disease. Motor neuron disorders are far from rare: Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and a variety of lesser diseases all come under that heading. What is distinctive about ALS—the [...]
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Speak No Evil

by John B. Judis from The New Republic The lines most cited in Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech were those about evil: “Evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince Al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force may sometimes be necessary [...]
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The Soviet Victory That Never Was

by Nikolas K. Gvosdev from Foreign Affairs Could the Soviet Union have won its war in Afghanistan? Today, the victory of the anti-Soviet mujahideen seems preordained as part of the West’s ultimate triumph in the Cold War. To suggest that an alternative outcome was possible — and that the United States has something to learn from the [...]
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Six Questions for John Scott-Railton on Cambodia

by Ken Silverstein from Harper’s Magazine While completing a master’s degree at the University of Michigan, John Scott-Railton helped develop “participatory mapping” projects aimed at protecting the fragile property rights of poor families living in Phnom Penh. While there he became an advocate of transparency in Cambodia’s natural resource management. Scott-Railton, now a doctoral student at the [...]
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Missing the Point

by Colm Tóibín from The London Review of Books From an early age, I have missed the point of things. I noticed this first when the entire class at school seemed to understand that Animal Farm was about something other than animals. I alone sat there believing otherwise. I simply couldn’t see who or what the book [...]
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Allen Ruppersberg for Bedeutung Magazine: The Secret of Life and Death

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