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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Damaged Beauty

Damaged Beauty

This piece, part of the Copper Belt Project, is the second in a series — listed here — exploring the forgotten people and places of an iconic American landscape scarred by a history of economic and environmental violence. More»

Obey the Grande

Obey the Grande

I’ve always been surprised by the fact that the original Starbucks is an inconspicuous cafe in Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Its anonymity stands in stark contrast to the legendary coffee company’s aggressive marketing style. After all, this is where it all started. Shouldn’t this be obviously branded a landmark? Not if your bottom line is numbers. No CEO really cares about his legacy. Just his stocks. The more signs you see on the street, the less likely you are to go inside and drink coffee. More»

Turkish Folk Music

Turkish Folk Music

Turkey broke the mold. Whether Germans were questioning the right of Turkish migrants to become citizens, Americans were attacking its leadership’s positions on Israel, or Syrians were complaining that Ankara manages to preserve favored status despite its policies towards the Kurds, Turkey is shorthand for , “Yes, but. . .”, a way for practitioners of Realpolitik both to define a “state of exception”, and assert its value. More»

Yiddish-Speaking Vikings

Yiddish-Speaking Vikings

Heavy Metal is often seen as a quintessentially white, Western, music. That is indeed the case much of the time. Metal emerged out of white, blue collar mutilations of the blues in working class heartlands such as the West Midlands. Metal imagery is often festooned with such ur-symbols of whiteness such as Viking warriors and corpse-painted pagans amid the snowy forests of Scandinavia. More»

Designer Security Apparatus

Designer Security Apparatus

Arriving in Tbilisi, Georgia, is a refreshing jolt for the senses. The boorish border guards typical of former Soviet republics suspiciously leafing through your passport (to find a visa it took you weeks to obtain) are replaced by courteous people providing a visa and hassle-free service at the city’s small airport. Driving into town provides another. Along the highway, a wavy ribbon of light-blue glass floats off a flat expanse of manicured grass, brilliantly lit against the dark, moonless night. That, I discovered, is the new Interior Ministry headquarters. More»

The Pessimism Process

The Pessimism Process

Aaron David Miller worked for the State Department for twenty-four years. His career began during the presidency of Jimmy Carter, and ended in the early days of George W. Bush’s presidency.
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Don Juan of Milan

Don Juan of Milan

Silvio Berlusconi can be faulted for many things. For using television to refashion Italian sensibilities. For buying votes. For making a mockery of an advanced, industrialized European country’s legal system. And, as many would insist, for reversing however far Italy may have traveled into the sexual revolution. More»

Mining the Copper Belt

Mining the Copper Belt

This piece, part of the Copper Belt Project, is the first in a series — listed here — exploring the forgotten people and places of an iconic American landscape scarred by a history of economic and environmental violence.
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Painting the Target

Painting the Target

Gun shows are easy to satirize. Arms manufacturers frequently use typically beautiful women to show off weaponry. Display booth and catalogue language is inevitably Orwellian. Every advertisement is rife with complex signifiers. Given the opportunity, a psychoanalyst would have a heart attack decoding industry messaging. More»

Fountain of Truth

Fountain of Truth

“Lippy Kids”, the strongest track on Elbow’s latest album Build a Rocket Boys!, takes a while to build up momentum and even longer to ease to a close. Over the sparest possible piano figure, a single note played over and over, simultaneously insistent and muted, a series of tasteful accents is gradually added and then subtracted. Only the carefully spaced intrusion of Guy Garvey’s evocative voice imparts the weight of a full-fledged song. Even then, the music sounds like it’s about to evaporate, making the six-minute running time something of a miracle. More»

The Other Bloodlands

The Other Bloodlands

Steve Reich on my iPod, a glass of Aerosvit Airlines Merlot, and a window seat are all I need. As the Kiev-to-Dubai flight leaves the rolling plains of the Ukraine behind, crossing the Sea of Azov, hugging the northern shores of the Black Sea, headed towards the Caucasus, I’m overwhelmed. The view is breathtaking. More»

The Trysts of Taste

The Trysts of Taste

Considering that the San Francisco Bay Area has one of the world’s densest concentrations of Ph.D.s, it shouldn’t be surprising that retailers appeal to the superior knowledge of the customer base they wish to cultivate. In the end, this approach is no different than marketing medicine for male erectile dysfunction to the men who watch sports on television. More»