As the first week of the new academic semester draws to a close, I find myself with even less spare time than usual. I hope to keep writing here as much as I can (or at least continue to add updates of links I’ve read), but since I have to read about a book a day on top of my normal teaching and course load in order to prepare for my comprehensive exams I do not know how successful I will be.
- Library turns to pole dancing to entice new readers– A library in Scotland is offering a free pole dancing class to lure people into the library. Among other events includes table tennis using books instead of paddles. I don’t know whether to be amused or horrified.
- Mali’s army suspected of abuses and unlawful killings– Complicating the French involvement in Mali is the unstable relationship the government has with the Tuareg nomads, with new allegations of abuses and indiscriminate shelling of the camps surfacing.
- How the Vatican built a secret empire using Mussolini’s millions– An interesting article, but misleading title. The article traces how the Vatican used offshore tax havens to create lucrative real estate investments in Switzerland, France, and the UK worth more than 500 million pounds. The nest egg for the investment was money paid by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of his fascist government.
- A Malian Quagmire?– An op-ed in the Atlantic in defense of military action in Mali. The author cites experts and claims made by the Islamists that indicate that they wish to create an area of influence spanning the Sahara within which Jihad may be fostered. He also provides military and economic reasons why France had to intervene and that there is hope that the French response–combined with aid from African countries–could prevent a prolonged insurgency.
- Bowhead Whales see huge population rebound off Alaska’s north slope– From a few weeks back, the whale population is increasing, according to a report at the meeting of the American Geophysical Union. That is good news, of course, but the cool thing is that there is some evidence that a few of the whales might be over 200 years old, after the researcher found a stone harpoon head stuck in a whale. The whaling industry nearly wiped out bowhead whales between 1848 and 1915 using barbed, steel harpoon heads.