Assorted Links

  1. Polar Bears and Grizzlies Producing Hybrid Offspring as Arctic Melts– in Spiegel, and article about the creation of a hybrid bear (called Pizzley in the article). As the ice melts, the two habitats are coming closer together and they are closely enough related that the two bears are breeding together, including a mixture of habits and features. Evidently, the hybrids are rare and the few that exist are not covered by existing endangered species legislation because they are not considered polar bears, but are prized by hunters.
  2. Grammar: is “whom” history? From the Mouths of Babes– an interesting discussion about early childhood development and grammar; in a particular example given, children are evidently able at a relatively young age to note that sometimes people seem to use “whom” rather than “who.” The author discusses whether or not “whom” will continue to use or if it will fall out of favor for “who,” but concludes that “whom” will continue to exist as a prized sign of intelligence. I think that the logic is rather pedantic (other words that come to mind include elitist and superficial). “Whom” should continue to exist as a formal distinction between subject and the direct and indirect object…which, of course, also means that we should return to teaching formal parts of speech.
  3. Who Needs a Navy?-A fascinating discussion of the true military and strategic value of a modern navy. The author suggests that no modern navy is cost-efficient.
  4. NATO Urges Calm Following Syrian Shelling of Turkish Town– Among multiple articles, Spiegel primarily focuses on the NATO impact to this new development. It is no surprise to note that NATO leaders are urging restraint–particularly because of treaty obligations that could necessitate NATO involvement in Syria, something that it has been trying to avoid for the last eighteen months. According to the New York Times, NATO has condemned the attacks, but has not yet invoked the clause in its charter that would require collective action. Frankly, this is a shame. The civil war in Syria is destroying a number of amazing historical sites and, frankly, has been raging for eighteen months without getting nearly the press or outrage that Libya or Egypt did. Between the lack of coverage, the Olympics, and the NATO response, it is almost as though world leaders are trying to pretend that nothing is going on. In fact, other than Turkey, it might be that the first foreign power to get involved is Israel on the grounds that they need to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria in order to prevent their proliferation. Human rights only come into play when it is expedient. I understand the reasoning behind not interfering in civil wars, but, often, it ends up being a convenient excuse to not do anything.
  5. Private Army Formed to Fight Somali Pirates Leaves Troubled Legacy– An article in the New York Times about private military forces in Somali, including fatal trainings and that a number of these mercenaries have, in effect, been stranded in Somalia. This mercenary group is currently unpaid, but is well armed and (in theory) well trained. The article focuses on this Puntland group (trained initially by a former head of the Blackwater), but expands the discussion to the premise and effects of outsources military operations. I am reminded both of Steven Pressfield’s book, The Profession, which is set in the not-so-distant future and expands the use of private military forces to a logical conclusion, and of Deadly Prey (yes, that is the whole movie on Youtube), a cult-classic from 1987 involving the training of such a private military force.
  6. As always, comments encouraged. What else is out there?

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