Tikkunista rolls into the fall. While we have sections on the rise of ISIS, a post-war analysis of Israel/Gaza, a US-summer retrospective, and some updates on Canada, we’re not starting with any of them. Instead, here’s the stuff from the past month that you’d be really unhappy if you missed. All great, and that’s about all they share.
The New Yorker has an exploration of GMO foods called “Seeds of Doubt”. It looks at both those who oppose GMO foods, those who support them, and distinguishes between Monsanto and the technology. If you are interested in the subject, whatever your position, this is pretty essential reading. Also a fine two-sider, the Atlantic looks at almonds. There’s a lot of evidence they’re really good for us– but increasing evidence they’re terrible for the environment (particularly bees). The Guardian has a clear one-sider: naps are good for you, with lots of tips on how to nap for maximum productivity. Also from the Guardian, a cogent review of a new book on how to fight depression – without drugs. On the lighter side, a quick video shows how to test if your batteries (AA, AAA, etc) are dead by dropping them on a hard surface, while another shows how to peel a lot of apples very, very fast (3 seconds each?). John Oliver is funny and accurate in his comments on the pay gap between men and women, and Project Gutenberg now offers 46,536 free ebooks (NOT pdfs) to download. The one you’ll most use is a three minute video that shows seven insanely cool new ways of using your smartphone camera: a quick telephoto lens, a quick macro lens, remote control…so much there.
So as the dust has settled in Gaza, what did the war mean? Who won (if anyone)? Who lost, bedsides those who were killed? Robert Fisk says it’s no victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation (tnx, Gabe). Al Jazeera does some polling, and reports that Hamas’s support has surged after its war with Israel; it would win Palestinian elections if they were held today. And Wallace Shawn has a marvellous piece about the whole sad affair, “”The anger of the Palestinians cannot be ended by killing their children”.
We’ll segué into ISIS by looking at an overview. Thanks to Rabia, for a useful visual of the different sects and branches of Islam. The Jewish Chronicle reminds everyone that “Islam saved Jewry. This is an unpopular, discomforting claim in the modern world. But it is a historical truth.” The Guardian observes that “3 years ago, Islamic State did not exist – now it controls vast swaths of Syria and Iraq. Why?” But really the best piece on ISIS is War Tard, who looks at the history of the Middle East and of ISIS over the past 13 years, and concludes, “ISIS have already pissed off too many people to enjoy longevity.” He makes a convincing argument. And one additional thought from the Washington Post, which looks at Jihadism, and sees deep similarities to American Exceptionalism. “It wasn’t a verse I’d read in our Qur’an study circles that made me want to fight, but rather my American values… I assumed that individuals had the right — and the duty — to intervene anywhere on the planet where they perceived threats to freedom, justice and equality. (Again, h/t Rabia)
Of course, it’s impossible to discuss the political impact of ISIS without getting into the US response, and what it should or shouldn’t be, and why. Eric Margolis looks at Obama and sees Michael Corleone, in The Godfather, saying, “Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in.” Stephen Walt reassesses the POTUS, wondering if Obama is a realist, “calculating, coldhearted, and decisive when it counts.” And we cover Ferguson, starting with a marvellous rant by Jon Stewart, and continuing with The Guardian’s questioning why Homeland Security is arming US local police. On that subject, Tom Tomorrow deconstructs Obama’s statement, “We tortured some folks.” (Tnx, Linda), and Tom the Dancing Bug has a toon in which Pinocchio, Inc. is given corporate life. A tale of two 9 year olds looks at how parents cannot allow 9-year-olds to play unsupervised at playgrounds, but can allow them to fire an Uzi. Other reasons to despair include a Colorado Republican arguing that fracking is okay because it’s natural for water to burn. After all “ ‘Indians’ used it for warmth.” Slate Magazine has a superficial article that reveals Americans’ deep despair, with a hopeless cry: “Will Everyone Shut Up Already About How the Nordic Countries Top Every Global Ranking?” The argument appears to be that there’s no point to looking at how successful countries manage because we’re not them. And why aren’t we? Well, as you figure that out, just sing along with the Koch Brothers’ parody song, “We’re the evil thing.”
Meanwhile in the great white green North….no, wait! Not allowed to say that– the Canadian government has ordered scientists not to disclose extent of polar melting. Just one of the many gifts Stevil Harper has brought us. And if you’re losing track, this Star graphic will show the full cornucopia. Click on each segment to see the tasty contents. Meanwhile in British Columbia, the teachers’ strike continues. If you’ve lost track of how this came about, here’s a useful three minute video that gives a quick refresher. Or if you enjoy gov’ts being caught lying, the Globe and Mail tells how the BC government’s chief negotiator revealed the plan to instigate the strike to fulfill their political agenda. Oops.
Music? There’s a new Leonard Cohen album due out 9/22 (a day after his 80th birthday). See the advance video of “Almost Like the Blues”. Another oldie, Willie Nelson, is gloriously profiled in Rolling Stone. A rare set of covers from Umphrey McGee at the Wanee Music Festival can be heard and downloaded for pwyw (h/t Lief). And a fascinating new Klezmer band, Zebrina, is out: read my review “Blues for YHVH”.
Dogs and other animals time! Here’s a simple plot: strapped with a GoPro, Walter the Labrador runs very fast to jump into the water. More complex is a dog wearing a spider costume at night, scaring the crap out of everyone. (“Spider-dog, spider-dog/ scares you coming through the fog. Not so scary? Listen, Dick,/ he’s got mandibles that click….”) Pure cutesy chaser: A St Bernard meets a kitten. Humour? See the heroic dog preventing tower from falling: saving many lives! Not to neglect the feline fans, here’s a history of classical music, in cat gifs (tnx, EB). And in a totally mind-blowing riff, ISIS shows their political acumen by tweeting cute kitteh pictures: My Mewjahid protectz me. After that, almost anything is anti-climactic, but here’s a mother turtle with her kids, a cute little elephantasy, and a hallucigenia, an ancient creature dating back to God’s surreal period.
Time to relax with some humour. Start with a clear XXIst century warning, from the Czech republic, and follow with a equally modern story of someone trying to choose a password. A fine list has 15 words without English equivalent: (#14. Boketto (Japanese) The act of gazing vacantly into the distance.) Now, watch the sad happy face, and see a gif with a sudden plot twist. Enough? Ok, then see what happened at the wedding when the best man lost the rings, see why a man who spent days working on a Lego construction is now crying, and learn why you should be very careful if you put a bald guy on the cover of your publication. And we’ll close with a funny ad Exxon won’t let anyone see on TV, and 34 panoramic photos gone terrifyingly wrong.
And we’ll end with some photos, starting with Prague at dusk, and a forest of Baobab trees in Madagascar, many over 1000 years old. A mesmerizing film shows jello bouncing at 6,200 FPS. Jigglissimus. (My Latin teacher would be proud of me for that one!) Some street art, with a great trompe d’oeil mural, some Parisian works by Pejac (h/t Gabe!), and street art by a cyclist on a curved wall. You probably shouldn’t try that one yourself. An LED painting with a 24 minute exposure and (At Last!) proof that the Wellington Hotel Annex was an inside job! This 60 second video proves it! Wake up, sheeple!!!