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Showing posts from April, 2015

Three Steps Forward: Why Russia is Winning the Cold War

In October of 1961,[1] Russia took a significant lead in the Cold War. In the long shadows of descending arctic winter, Khrushchev dropped the bomb to end all bombs. It was the Tsar Bomba, the King of Bombs[2], a ringing designation that persists through decades of foggy history like the first rays of light in the east at dawn, piercing the air and the night and signifying diurnal change, but only dimly so. It was the most powerful explosion in all of human history, and one hopes it will remain so for many years to come, but it killed exactly zero people. To many earnest scholars, the event is little more than a footnote in history. To many it was a terrifying but shallow display, full of sound and fury, but signifying nothing. In the grand scheme of the Cold War, it signified only a blustery show of strength made in desperation by a despotic regime clinging to a failed philosophy. No hill was gained, no flag was planted, and no hand was forced. In that sense, some historians treat …

One Day in the LIfe of Ivan Deenisovich: A Review

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich. trans. H. T. Willets, New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2005, 182 pages.

The greatest conflict within human nature is the struggle for compromise between the needs of the individual and the needs of the community. Science and education are no sure hedge against a perilous loss of balance between the two, but the willing capacity for empathy, called humanity, has long been regarded as the key ingredient to stability and decency. When those characteristics are absent in either man or nation, neither may continue to exist with surety. Against the greatest adversity, all beliefs and convictions are tested. The question emerges, does the man live in the community? Or does the community live in the man? One novel way to explore such a question is to spend One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, where all the pretenses of comfort and civilization have been ripped away with extreme prejudice, leaving only hopeless, desperate…

US Policy Towards the Muslim World: A Review

Kidwai, Salim. US Policy Towards the Muslim World: Focus on the 9/11 Period. Washington D.C.: University Press of America, 2010, 309 pages.

Two major challenges which confront Americans in the twenty-first century are the failure to understand the causes and conditions which led to the U.S. entrenchment in the modern Middle Eastern conflagration of endless conflict, and the failure to consider how the rest of the world perceives this involvement. Saleem Kidwai has compiled a series of fourteen essays written by professors at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, which attempt to explain the roots of US foreign policy in the region, as well as the various and highly varied relationships between the U.S and such states as Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and India. These authors attempt to trace the historicity of these relationships to their origins in twentieth century war and trade, define the successes, failures, and mistakes of successive American administrations, and offer …

Don't Hide the TV Outside

How does an atheist teach a kid about Easter? Simple. Hide the TV.
The functional elements of the Easter Tradition for American kids, the infamous Easter egg hunt, have their roots in the deepest recesses of the human psyche. The act of hiding eggs and finding eggs is a lesson in humanity, derived from hardwired hunt-and-gather instincts, that though largely symbolic in modern culture, evokes a formative experience in human development. The most basic requirement for the survival of any organism is the ability to find food. To do so requires luck, skill, and patience, with persistence and efficiency typically rewarded. Virtue itself precedes from these very fundamental adaptions in the human condition. Linguistically, the words themselves could just as predictably be found in reviews of epic English poetry or on the backs of block-busting Disney hard-covers. From virtue, they transcend archetypal components of cultural heroism into rational questions of character when exposed to thei…