Science Doorstops Worth A Look
February 26, 2007

by John McWhorter In the vein of using this blog to shine a light on authors who don't get the attention they deserve, two books on how genetic data is revising what we know about early human migrations by Stephen Oppenheimer have been major eye openers for me. The Real Eve: Modern Man's Journey Out of Africa, from 2003, shows how data from mutations in mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome are now allowing us pinpoint the pathways that humankind took from Africa in often bracing detail.

New Protocols
February 26, 2007

Well, you know about The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. They are the minutes of a conference of rabbis, communists, capitalists and Zionists who contrived a plot to dominate the world. The document has fueled more than a hundred years of Jew-hatred.

Girl Interrupted
February 26, 2007

Mustansiriya University is a mostly Shia institution of higher learning in Baghdad whose main campus experienced 70 dead in a series of bombings last month. Brian Murphy's AP dispatch from Baghdad reports that its campus annex was attacked by a female suicide bomber on Sunday, killing another 41. There are two facts one can deduce from this event. The first is that the murderer was a foreigner, a woman Arab Sunni fanatic smuggled into Iraq. We know this because virtually every one of the suicidalists has come from abroad.

In Today's Web Magazine
February 26, 2007

Jeffrey Rosen takes a luxury junket to the heart of Bush's war on terrorism; reporting from Jordan, where many have fled, Anna Husarska documents the living hell of pro-U.S. Iraqis; Michael Tomasky begins a debate with Fred Siegel about Rudy Giuliani's chances; and Jonathan Chait debunks the conservative myth that Hillary Clinton is unstoppable. --Adam B. Kushner

Sunni V. Shiite
February 26, 2007

Just to follow up on what Brad wrote earlier regarding Seymour Hersh's latest New Yorker piece, there is something deeply ironic about the Bush administration's latest Middle East strategy. Despite two wars and lots of talk about upending the status quo in the Arab world, the Bushies seem to be working from the same playbook used throughout much of the past thrity years: Make a Devil's Bargain with corrupt Sunni regimes, let them support (and yet paradoxically try to contain) Sunni extremist elements, and make sure Iran and the Shiites don't become too powerful.

At Long Last, Sir
February 26, 2007

Joe Lieberman has an op-ed in today's Wall Street Journal. I found this passage particularly incredible: Will we allow our actions to be driven by the changing conditions on the ground in Iraq--or by the unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington? Unchanging political and ideological positions long ago staked out in Washington?

Days Of Glory
February 22, 2007

Last night I went to see what I thought was Clint Eastwood's American pendant to his at once nuanced and stirring movie, Letters from Iwo Jima (which I hope wins the Academy Award for Best Picture.) The film I thought I was going to see was Flags of Our Fathers. But what I actually saw was Days of Glory. No, not that other Days of Glory with Gregory Peck and made in 1944. Yet there are some similarities. Both are about soldiers fighting the Nazis. The Peck drama centered on Russian partisans resisting the German occupation of the Motherland.

Rudy Can't Fail
February 22, 2007

Rudy Giuliani's event of the day: a photo-op with firefighters in South Carolina: "The first people that arrive on the scene of the bombing or the anthrax attack... it's going to be one of your brothers or your sisters or you that gets to do it," the former New York mayor told a crowd of about 200 emergency workers. "Your ability to do it well will once again determine if we save lives -- save America." This brings to mind two useful references. One is Jon Chait's recent column on the strange foreign-policy rationale behind Rudy's campaign.

The Cost Of Terror
February 21, 2007

Yesterday I posted a note on the Bangkok bombing which it was thought then had taken only eight lives. In Harvard Square, again yesterday, a friend asked me why I had bothered to write about an atrocity with so few dead. Well, it turns out today, that with all the precincts in the death total is 68. More like it. It's debilitating to see how cheap life is thought to be, how terribly cheap the terrorists have made it. Among the dead victims, according to a report by Amelia Gentleman in today's Times, are five children of a Pakistani shopkeeper, who himself had suffered burns.

Conveying Horror In Print
February 19, 2007

Two car bombs in a market in a Shia neighborhood of Baghdad, according to a late story by Marc Santora in The New York Times, blew up and left "at least" 60 dead. Some 120 people were wounded. The market looked like gehenna. The relentlessness of Sunni slaughter of Shia in Iraq is not only gruesome but it is also stupid. The Shia command a huge majority in the country, and now have the upper hand politically and geographically. Against this reality, Sunni butchery may give Saddam's heirs and the sectarian extremists momentary satisfaction.