Reads

Two weeks ago, I went to an awards dinner together with several students. We work on an education project in an Arizona prison. The hotel dining room was filled with hundreds of people, nearly all of whom were religious volunteers engaged in prison ministries. (More…)

Not being a big poetry fan, I’m in no position to offer a critique of Günter Grass’ controversial poem, “What Must Be Said.” I’ve read two different translations of it (here is the one I’ve seen most commonly, and here is another that feels like a very different poem.) The difference in wording of the translations leads to stark changes in the poem’s tone and substance. (More…)

“Mushroom soup, bitter greens with tomatoes the size of peas, rare roast beef sliced as thin as paper, noodles in a green sauce, cheese that melts on your tongue served with sweet blue grapes” — Hunger Games heroine Katniss Everdeen’s first meal in the Capitol is not distinguished by arcane preparation but the availability of high-quality ingredients. (More…)

Nathan Englander’s new collection of short stories normalizes bad politics. The author’s inability to engage with critical difficulties within American Jewish and Israeli culture leaves key stories littered with futile symbolism. It’s too simple to suggest that Englander lacks courage. (More…)

Souciant contributor Mitchell Plitnick  was scheduled to attend the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference, starting Sunday, in Washington DC. Though he’d been admitted to the event as a correspondent for Inter Press Service, together with reporters from Mondoweiss and The Guardian, Plitnick’s credentials were revoked last week, without explanation. (More…)

I started out as a designer in technology nearly twenty years ago. To say that I have perspective would be an understatement. This said, I’d be remiss to not rebuke John Naughton for his thoughtless article, Graphic designers are ruining the web. It’s a highly misinformed screed, full of baseless conclusions. (More…)

The English debut of Roberto Bolaño’s The Third Reich is a major literary event, despite the book’s restrained ambitions. Because the author’s posthumous fame shows no sign of abating, this disconcerting tale is bound to reach a much larger audience than the specialized nature of its subject matter would otherwise suggest. And deservedly so, for it provides ample evidence of Bolaño’s brilliance. (More…)

Neukölln’s public spaces are full of bilingual signage. This one says several things, including “Grilling is forbidden,” in both Turkish and German. A common sight during the summer, Turkish families can frequently be found grilling meats in Berlin’s municipal parks. (More…)

As the dust settles on America’s exit from Iraq, speculation over the possibility of the next Mideast war has resumed. The recent death of an Iranian scientist, Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, has fuelled concerns. Especially given that Tehran knows who is to blame. Predictions that it may close the Strait of Hormuz, provoking a US response, have been making the rounds. (More…)

Rats, crocodiles and Wile E. Coyote have been much on my mind lately.

I’m going to Kenya tomorrow. The guidebook warns against swimming in inland waters, infested as they are with crocs and bilharzia. But that’s not what brings these thoughts to mind. While on the subject, my daughter’s too young to appreciate Chuck Jones. And rodents have left my larder alone for a few years now. (More…)

We live in the Age of Restraint. Oh, it may not seem that way. Humans still reproduce at bacterial, rather than primate, rates. And as this weird new kind of “bacterium” grows, unlike any bacterial species, each member consumes more: humans are getting richer all the time (and I don’t just mean the 1%.) (More…)

When newspapers first disclosed that one percent of the US population was imprisoned or on probation, credible reports allege that prosecutors at Maricopa County Attorney’s office celebrated with cheers and calls to “Go for two percent!”  That is what team spirit looks like in this age of mass incarceration. (More…)