Friday Blogroll!

1)  In a not so surprising move by the anarchy that is the internet, some of the Sochi pictures are fake.  This is important, because Putin.

2)  Theological reflections on  the coca-cola ad.

3)  Rwanda’s former intel chief is currently on trial in France.

4)  An interesting piece on Francisco Franco’s cult of personality:  “To be sure, Franco, unlike Cosimo, made lots of public speeches during his life and said many well-documented things to ambassadors, ministers, and other political leaders. But one point that Preston’s biography brings out well is that it is very difficult to construct a coherent position for Franco from his public statements (though Preston tries valiantly). For one thing, he seems to have had no problems disregarding the truth when it was convenient for him to deny it, and he was alarmingly willing to change his position as circumstances or audiences changed. He could say anything with apparently complete conviction: he could be a monarchist one minute, a Falangista the next, and then assert his claim to being a true Spanish democrat. Yet Preston never quite succeeds in establishing that there was one thing Franco “really believed” underneath all the bullshitting and incoherence, some ideological commitment or fundamental interest beyond his maintenance in power that could account for the many different things he said. His key political talent, Preston notes more than once, was for “shroud[ing] his intentions in a cloud of nebulous vagueness” (Kindle Location 14849-14850). Since no one could be quite sure about his real commitments, these could be “read” in a variety of different ways at the time – as fundamentally sympathetic to the Falange, or fundamentally conservative and Catholic, or as those of an anti-communist warrior.”

5)  Economic reconstruction in Afghanistan is, of course, failing.

6)  House member renew call for Snowden to be tried as traitor:  “Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) read a statement that “Ed Snowden isn’t a whistleblower; he’s a traitor.” McKeon demanded that Snowden be “brought to justice.” Of course, the ultimate punishment for the crimes described by Thornberry and McKeon would be death.”

7)  The Rise of Libertarians:  This is an important piece from Max Borders, and it, true to form for Borders, is highly optimistic.  There are parts of it that I would challenge, of course, but the thrust of the argument is true:  libertarians are here, they are spontaneous and unpredictable within politics, even when their political identity is properly and sturdily defined.  They transcend party; which, Borders thinks, will dismiss party in the future (at least that seems to be his argument – and I’m skeptical of this), and that the coupling of highly decentralized (and democratic) form of technology with libertarianism (or something like it) is sparking political drifts and trends that the two clunky, major parties and their entrenched worldviews, are not agile enough to adapt to.  Thus – libertarians are here and they are here to stay.

Enjoy the weekend, boys and girls.


Did you hear what he said?!? Here’s your afternoon blogroll!!!

1)  Happy birthday, Thomas Paine! As Judith Shklar once mentioned, the thrust or strength of Paine was that he was able to make a very small pamphlet about a regional conflict into a global manifesto about transcendent issues that are still with us today.

2) David Beer’s book Punk Sociology sounds rad.  Here’s a blurb from a blog post of his:  “The book itself develops an idea I’ve previously written on, which is that we can draw upon alternative forms of knowledge in order to develop the repertoire of sociology and the social sciences. This draws on work by Howard Becker and others. The book responds directly to a range of debates on the future of sociology (including those in the picture below, amongst others)…. And here’s a review of the book from This Sociological Life.

3)  The 100 year anniversary of World War One continues to bring almost always sober analysis, both of what happened then and the world it left behind, and that the part of the world mostly suffering from the effects of the Great War are outside of Europe, “Fortunately, there was no relapse, because the West had learned its lessons from historical mistakes. Today, three factors loom large in the avoidance of disaster: the United States’ military presence in Europe, the progress of European integration, and Europe’s abandonment of great-power politics. Yet there is no point in fooling oneself: Only as long as the Balkan countries believe in the European Union and the benefits of membership will today’s precarious peace in the region become permanent.

No such hope currently exists for the Middle East, whose contemporary political borders were largely established by Britain and France during WWI, when the diplomats Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot negotiated the division of the Ottoman Empire. Likewise, the creation of Israel harks back to the 1917 Balfour Declaration, whereby the subsequent British mandatory power in Palestine supported the establishment of a national home for the Jewish people.

The Middle East created back then is, more or less, the Middle East today. Yet we are now witnessing its disintegration, because the Sykes-Picot design always implied a strong external hegemonic power (or two) able and willing to maintain stability by channeling (or suppressing) the region’s numerous conflicts. Great Britain and France, the first hegemonic powers, were succeeded by the US and the Soviet Union – and, finally, by the US alone.

America’s misadventure in Iraq, its exhaustion as a world power, and its unwillingness to maintain its previous level of commitment to the region have rendered the Sykes-Picot structure untenable, because no other external force for order is available. The resulting vacuum has been filled by various currents of political Islam, terrorism, protest movements, uprisings, secession attempts by national or religious minorities, and aspiring regional hegemons (Iran and Saudi Arabia).”  

4)  New Book:  The Jewish Jesus:  How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other, Peter Shafer.  Blurby: “In late antiquity, as Christianity emerged from Judaism, it was not only the new religion that was being influenced by the old. The rise and revolutionary challenge of Christianity also had a profound influence on rabbinic Judaism, which was itself just emerging and, like Christianity, trying to shape its own identity. In The Jewish Jesus, Peter Schäfer reveals the crucial ways in which various Jewish heresies, including Christianity, affected the development of rabbinic Judaism. The result is a demonstration of the deep mutual influence between the sister religions, one that calls into question hard and fast distinctions between orthodoxy and heresy, and even Judaism and Christianity, during the first centuries CE.”

5)  I wouldn’t go to Sochi.

6)  The mixed, and mostly bad, legacy of Yalta.

7)  I’m not sure what the correlation between literary “symbolism”, as described here, and our ever-present tendency to see things through art that confirms biases, but I thought this was interesting.  Of the authors mentioned and quoted, hardly any of them sought to provide a symbol.  The symbols came through the writing process, and not before.  

8) Judging the constitutionality of Obama’s remarks has a lot of wrinkles., via the Volokh Conspiracy (this was written prior to the speech).

9) The Aid Debate rages one.  Here’s is Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson arguing for robust, inclusive institutions as a way to really help Africa, and here is Ken Opalo saying, essentially, “yes, but…

10) Flags made out of regional food, and Buzzfeed gets trolled.  Hard.

Happy Wednesday!