September 7th, 2009
>>It is of course true that millions of other people lost their lives in this conflict, often in unprecedentedly horrible ways, and that new tyrannies were imposed on the countries—Poland, Czechoslovakia and China most notably—that had been the pretexts for a war against fascism. But is this not to think in the short term? Unless or until Nazism had been vanquished, millions of people were most certainly going to be either massacred or enslaved in any case.<<
Christopher Hitchens: A War Worth Fighting
August 22nd, 2009
>>11. Constantly attack ‘Communist’ regimes for actions that occur in capitalist regimes up to this very day.<<
Eastern Star: Guide to Anti-Communism
August 19th, 2009
>>A younger friend of mine has this job. She was recruited into it at a very early age… not even twelve when she started doing it. She was very good at it — wound up making far more as an “amateur” than any of the other kids in her school. When she turned 18 she discovered she could make quite a bit more if she kept doing it than she could with any of the other entry-level jobs that were available to her. So she turned pro. Now, as she approaches her 30s, she’s growing weary of it and wondering if she’s up for it anymore and wondering even harder what she could do instead that would make anything like the same money, in this economy. Especially considering how she’s specialized in her particular skills, how she barely made it through high school, and how her prospects of going to college or even a trade school are pretty dim.
There’s a lot of heartache in her line of work. She develops sometimes intensely personal and intimate relationships with her clients but no matter how close they become the clients always move on, always lose interest. And though she tries to keep tabs on them they often forget about her entirely.
Laura Agustín of Border Thinking on Migration, Culture, Economy and Sex says my friend may soon have a hard time getting a visa to do it in Canada. For her own “protection.”<<
figleaf: The Best Way to Insure Worker Safety Probably Isn’t to Deport Workers
July 1st, 2009
>>The Final Solution, as the Nazis called it, was originally only one of the exterminatory projects to be implemented after a victorious war against the Soviet Union. Had things gone the way that Hitler, Himmler, and Göring expected, German forces would have implemented a Hunger Plan in the Soviet Union in the winter of 1941–1942. As Ukrainian and south Russian agricultural products were diverted to Germany, some 30 million people in Belarus, northern Russia, and Soviet cities were to be starved to death. The Hunger Plan was only a prelude to Generalplan Ost, the colonization plan for the western Soviet Union, which foresaw the elimination of some 50 million people. (…)
At a time when German resistance to Hitler receives attention in the mass media, it is worth recalling that some participants in the July 1944 plot to kill Hitler were right at the center of mass killing policies: Arthur Nebe, for example, who commanded Einsatzgruppe B in the killing fields of Belarus during the first wave of the Holocaust in 1941; or Eduard Wagner, the quartermaster general of the Wehrmacht, who wrote a cheery letter to his wife about the need to deny food to the starving millions of Leningrad.<<
The New York Review of Books: Holocaust: The Ignored Reality. Also contains often neglected facts about the Great Terror in the Soviet Union, the geographics of World War II’s mass killings, and about the Expulsion of Germans (”Vertreibung”) after the war:
>>Although the expulsions were a case of collective responsibility, and involved hideous treatment, mortality rates among German civilians—some 600,000 out of 12 million—were relatively low when compared to the other events discussed here. Caught up in the end of a horrible war fought in their name, and then by an Allied consensus in favor of border changes and deportation, these Germans were not victims of a calculated Stalinist killing policy comparable to the Terror or the famine.<<
(Hat Tip: Will)
June 25th, 2009
Peter [the Deacon, who wrote in the twelfth century] tells us that Constantinus was born at Carthage, by which he probably means Tunis, since Carthage was no longer in existence, but went to Babylon, by which Cairo is presumably designated, since Babylon had ages before been reduced to a dust heap, to improve his education. His birth must have been around 1015.
Lynn Thorndike, A History of Magic and Experimental Science, vol.1, p.744. Thorndike does not give any further reasons for those substitutions, i.e. why anyone would have referred to Cairo as Babylon, if it was common among writers of the time etc. He also translates “regis Babiloniorum” (of the king of the Babylonians) as “of the caliph,” apparently for the same reason.
April 5th, 2009
>>Early Greek history “sets a special challenge to the disciplined mind. It is a game with very few pieces, where the skill of the players lies in complicating the rules”. So wrote Iris Murdoch in her novel The Nice and the Good. Strictly speaking, she was referring to the archaic period. But in practical terms, it could be extended to embrace the whole of ancient history, where sources are few; or, rather, appear in a sudden floods (usually associated with a very well-preserved writer such as Cicero) closely followed by frustrating periods of drought. Historians must wring every last drop of juice from this or that inscription, potsherd, or literary source, proceeding with painstaking care and engaging in minute acts of close-reading. But then the fun of it is that they may make the most extraordinary leaps of the imagination to bridge the gaps. This process, of almost pettifogging exactitude combined with what some might regard as little short of fantasy, can be frustrating. But it is this marriage of precision, abstract thinking and creativity that makes ancient history so absorbing and endlessly fresh. Someone is always coming along and knocking down the fragile house of cards constructed by the last thinker, and boldly building another elegant edifice.<<
Charlotte Higgins: End of an era (Guardian)
March 27th, 2009
>>But many rapists acquire what is sometimes called a “social license to operate” from the model of sex as a commodity (which constructs consent as the “abscence of no”) and from its close corollary, the social construct of “slut.”<<
Thomas Macaulay Millar: Toward a Performance Model of Sex, in: Friedman/Valenti: Yes means yes!