Introducing a new feature of my blog!
A sum up of the most memorable (and intellignt) articles/quotes I've read online this week.
“'Fortunately, history is not made up of daily headlines, blogs on Web sites, or the latest sensational attack. History is a bigger picture, and it takes some time and perspective to measure accurately” Donald Rumsfeld
Herrings are dangerous! (as dangerous a bombs and firearms)
Airlines ban 'foul' Swedish fish, Lars Bevanger
At a time when religion is becoming increasingly important elsewhere, we Europeans have largely forgotten our religious past, and we have difficulty understanding the role that religion can play in other peoples' daily lives. In some ways, "they" are our own buried past and -- with a combination of ignorance, prejudice and, above all, fear -- "we" are afraid that "they" could define our future.
Emotion at the root of clashing 'civilizations', Dominique Moisi
Globalization may not have created these layers of conflict, but it has accelerated them by making the differences more visible and palpable. In our globalized age, we have lost the privilege -- and, paradoxically, the virtue -- of ignorance. We all see how others feel and react, but without the minimal historical and cultural tools necessary to decipher those reactions. Globalization has paved the way to a world dominated by the dictatorship of emotions -- and of ignorance.
Emotion at the root of clashing 'civilizations', Dominique Moisi
On the EU
EU texts also have a grab-bag nature with each member state seeking to insert pet projects or ideologies. The intentions may be good, but this means a summit communique often contains clauses which appear contradictory. And most EU declarations are far too long.
The classic case of doing the EU splits pits pro-market economy Anglo-Saxon and northern European member states against countries like
Acquis communautaire? Subsidiarity? It's all Euro-babble to me, DPA
On French protests
Behind the current political crisis seems nothing less than the essential question confronting
But on another level,
It has become a cross-generational revolt. Baby-boomers embraced by the generous French social welfare system want to protect treasured benefits long into retirement. Their children do not believe they should pay to keep the system in place - unless they too benefit from it.
Shaking France, a revolt both angry and mellow, Elaine Sciolino
…there is something in the argument that in this most conservative and reform-resistant of nations, where citizens can feel both oppressed by an omnipresent state and reliant on it for their sense of security (or even identity), strikes and marches act as a kind of national therapy.
Strikes: French national therapy, John Henley
On language learning and Chinese
…language study is like mountaineering: you reach one crest, only to discover you are still in the foothills; you scale the next big peak only to find another, far higher one further ahead. But for exactly the same reason, it can be very satisfying to look back at all the ground you have covered.
Two big differences between learning Chinese and any other language are the tones and the characters. Mandarin has a far wider range of characters than English (more than 4,000 ideograms are commonly used, compared with the 26 letters of the alphabet) but a far narrower range of syllables.
As my erudite predecessor the classical scholar John Gittings put it: "Chinese is rich in vocabulary but phonetically impoverished." To distinguish between identical phonemes, Mandarin uses tones - four of them. And as a foreigner who struggles to hit the right note even in karaoke, it is the tones that get me every time.
Empire of signs, Jonathan Watt
In becoming so catastrophically engaged in the Middle East, making the region its overwhelming global priority, it downgraded the importance of everywhere else, taking its eye off the ball in a crucial region such as east Asia, which in the long run will be far more important to the US's strategic interests than the Middle East.
The overwhelming preoccupation of the Bush administration (and Blair for that matter) with Iraq, the Middle East and Islam, speaks of a failure to understand the deeper forces that are reshaping the world and an overriding obsession with realising and exploiting the US's temporary status as the sole global superpower. Such a myopic view can only hasten the decline of the
Imperial overreach is accelerating the global decline of America, Martin Jacques
On the rise of the East
If you want to understand the future, [
Always beware your moment of triumphalism: such emotions are a poor steer on the future.
How the west is lost, Martin Jacques
…it is no longer possible for
Old attitudes of superiority and disdain - dressed up in terms of free speech, progress or whatever - are still very powerful. Nor - as many liberals like to think - are they necessarily in decline. On the contrary, racial bigotry is on the rise, even in countries that have previously been regarded as tolerant.
Europe's contempt for other cultures can't be sustained, Martin Jacques
All this makes me so sad. In 1996, the birth of al-Jazeera was a breath of free speech in a region of censorious governments, and Bush should back them rather than bomb them. I made the mistake of making a masochistic appearance on Fox TV once to justify my representation of "terrorists" in
Embedded in Gitmo, Clive Stafford Smith
Why grammar is something we care about, Michael McCarthy
On the end of superpower-ism
The lessons for today are clear. While military power remains important, it is a mistake for any country to discount the role of economic power and soft power. But it is also a mistake to discount the importance of leaders with humanitarian values.
Gorbachev and the end of the Cold War, Joseph Nye
On democracy’s hypocrisy
When is an election not considered free and fair by the West? Answer: when it delivers victory to a government that rejects neoliberal orthodoxy and refuses to orientate its foreign policy toward
The West's hypocrisy on Belarus, Neil Clark
On civilian targets
Defenders of the area-bombing campaigns point out that losing the war against such wicked, dangerous enemies would have been the biggest immorality of all. They are right. But stooping to tactics as barbarous as those of the axis powers could only have been justified if there were no other arguably better ways of using the bombing weapon.Bombing civilians is not only immoral, it's ineffective, AC Grayling