Assorted Links

  1. ‘Humane’ Drones Are the Most Brutal Weapons of All-The German army is in the process of purchasing unmanned weapons. This article in der Spiegel examines the decision and argues that there is a delusion that the drones are humane and good, when it is really causing the destruction of human lives to become anonymous.
  2. Islamist sect found living underground near Russian city for nearly ten years-In Russia an Islamist sect was found in a bunker. Some of the children were born there and had never seen natural light. The sect is named for its founder who had declared himself to be a prophet and his house an independent Islamic state.
  3. The New Olympic Arms Race-An article in the New York Review of Books that does a really good job of pulling out the elite-proxy-war aspects to the Olympics, including a bunch of facts that I was unaware of, such as the reason to encourage athletes in certain individual sports rather than team sports in order to maximize efficiency of expenditure and medal count.
  4. Essay predicting that campuses will be completely digital in 3 years-The president of McGraw-Hill publishing wrote a predictive (and, to an extent, marketing) essay calling for a digital revolution, and posits failing grades and preparation of students to the lack of digitization on college campuses, something of which I am skeptical. Perhaps it is just my experience with these technologies (reading on a screen is difficult for me), but I am not convinced of the educational value of digitization, at least for the humanities. Digital options should be available, yes, but a complete digital transformation prioritizes pushing everyone into the realm of the digital and plays into “modern” values that are regressive in terms of actual engagement with texts. I am highly skeptical that students would be any more prepared, and their misguided reliance on technology is leaving them less and less prepared, particularly when it comes to writing. Do note that I really only speak for history and classics in my opinion, and not any other disciplines for whom complete digitization makes more sense.
  5. New York Mayor’s Soda Ban Sparks Debate on Fat and Freedom-Some discussion in der Spiegel of the ongoing debate about obesity in the United States. The article states:”what Bloomberg is doing is courageous to the point of foolhardiness.” There is a clear indictment of the overall health of Americans and the implication is that it is a corporate and cultural problem.
  6. As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?

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