Elites, War Profiteers Take Aim at Syria’s Economic Future

Elites, War Profiteers Take Aim at Syria’s Economic Future

DAMASCUS – According to the Syrian government, the worst of the war is over. New businesses are opening, domestic tourism is booming and investors are slowly trickling back into the country. More»

The Abyss Stares Back

The Abyss Stares Back

Out of respect for the editors of this fine publication, I will resist the temptation to make some joke about spending a relaxing morning sipping fine Namibian #covfefe. The Internet has been ablaze with humor on this theme, but at this point it is a matter of liberals (mostly) laughing to keep from crying. More»

The Schröder Effect

The Schröder Effect

Going into the German elections the consensus is that Angela Merkel will once again be reinstated and the grand coalition reconstituted. Many people are taking refuge in the status quo given the instability in the world today. But this election result didn’t look so certain at the start of 2017. More»

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Our Own Worst Enemies

Our Own Worst Enemies

Sometimes, it seems, that Israel’s security echelon is as bent on terrifying the country’s Jewish population as it is the Palestinians. Considering the paranoid prognostications of Major General Eyal Eisenberg, that the Arab Spring could give way to “a winter of radical Islam … and as a result the possibility for a multi-front war has increased, including the potential use of weapons of mass destruction,” one would be hard pressed to imagine otherwise. More»

Deserving an Audience

Deserving an Audience

Two weeks ago, my life took a slightly strange turn. My past and future collided in a clash between old media and new media. Let me explain.

Although I’ve never had a secure, long-term post, I’ve been working in academia since completing my PhD in 2001. Over this time, I’ve amassed a number of publications, including two monographs (one of which was co-authored,) a co-edited book, three journal articles and a number of book chapters. More»

Local Dialect

Local Dialect

Antonio tells me that after the 2006 uprising, street art flourished. There are still signs of it flowering all over the city. I was fascinated by the fact that the street art in Oaxaca could pass muster in San Francisco. Clearly, the street art in both places flow from the same urban aesthetic. However, Oaxaqueño artists have developed their own local flavor. More»

Indefinite Regress

Indefinite Regress

I’ve already listened to all of Stephen Malkmus and The Jicks’ new album Mirror Traffic twice, first in the car, on my hundred-minute drive back from Phoenix, and again on my home stereo, before my thinking about it starts to find traction. Part of me is glad that the songs are shorter and less solo-inclined than was the case on Mirror Traffic’s predecessors. But even the gravel strewn across their surface — a missed beat here, a splash of distortion there — doesn’t diminish their slipperiness. I have to proceed with care. More»

How Not To Eat Soup Dumplings

How Not To Eat Soup Dumplings

I’m standing in line to enter Taipei’s Din-Tai-Fung, one of the world’s most famed dumpling restaurants, when they arrive in a double-decker bus: rows of white people neatly stacked on top of each other, gazing out through tinted windows at a world that isn’t theirs. They begin clambering off the bus a little ways up from where I stand and even before they reach the line, even before I hear them speak, I know they are Americans. More»

How to Create Consensus

How to Create Consensus

On August 29th, The Jerusalem Post terminated one of its top columnists, Larry Derfner. The long-serving pundit lost his job by falling into a language trap that’s been a bane of peace activists for decades. Some will contend that Derfner’s dismissal is a positive for progressive forces. The newspaper’s political orientation is alleged to be centrist, but is highly conservative. Nevertheless, its diversity of views is said to span from Derfner on the left, to Caroline Glick on the right. More»

Where's the Party?

Where’s the Party?

“Grazie Napoli!” read the sign. Written by hand on a legal-sized sheet of white paper, it was taped to the end of a small wooden table in the middle of the square. Surrounded by young Italian families and neighborhood shop owners nibbling on aperitivos, drinking matching plastic cups of red wine, our neighbors repeatedly made toasts. A squad of Italian soldiers looked on at the crowd, expressionless. The contrast was a bit unnerving. More»

The Laws of Distraction

The Laws of Distraction

Walking across a college campus these days, one is constantly reminded how important personal technology has become for today’s students. From the sorority sister texting while her beach cruiser wobbles through the crowd, to the nerds sharing a portable videogame console, the scene is reminiscent of yesterday’s science fiction. The degree of collective distraction is truly stunning. Everyone seems to be tuning into their devices as a way of tuning out the world around them. More»

Greetings From Oaxaca

Greetings From Oaxaca

I came to Oaxaca on a whim. A friend announced that she was taking a trip south (I live in northern California,) so I decided to tag along. I hadn’t been to the country since I was a kid, when my family took a cruise to Acapulco.

My knowledge of Mexico was spotty. Besides a smattering of Zapatista lore and typically tabloid news fare (maquiladoras, illegal migrants, narco-violence, etc,) my ideas about the country came from a book by Oliver Sacks, about Oaxaca’s biodiversity. He has a thing for ferns. More»

Waiting for the Hurricane

Waiting for the Hurricane

Sometimes the mud stirred up by a storm contains gold. Sometimes it just shoots out the Superfund sludge that should have been cleared a half century ago.

Sitting in a post-Katrina New York, bracing myself for the arrival of Hurricane Irene, I turned to Grooveshark for the obvious song, Chris de Burgh’s ironically apropos Waiting for the Hurricane, from 1981. More»

Sonic Youth Needs an Editor

Sonic Youth Needs an Editor

I logged thousands of hours as a college radio DJ in the early 1980s, and have spun in clubs every once in a while since. House mixing is alien to me. I don’t like to extend songs, or blend them seamlessly. I want to slam different things together and mix them up, but still make sense. I want dynamics, not sameness. More»

Interstitial Overdrive

Interstitial Overdrive

A three-day music festival like Outside Lands is hectic and exhausting no matter how you approach it. So, I try to pare down the wish list, not rush from stage to stage to see every single band I’m interested in, and let the festival vibe take care of whatever other decisions need to be made. Recapping the experience without running over the itinerary isn’t much easier. But paying attention to what isn’t on stage is a start. More»