What is the winter solstice, and why bother to celebrate it, as so many people around the world will tomorrow? The word “solstice” derives from the Latin sol (meaning sun) and statum (stand still), and reflects what we see on the first days of summer and winter when, at dawn for two or three days, the sun seems to linger for several minutes in its passage across the sky, before beginning to double back.
Indeed, “turnings of the sun” is an old phrase, used by both Hesiod and Homer. The novelist Alan Furst has one of his characters nicely observe, “the day the sun is said to pause.… Seguir leyendo »
“Mom!” my 12-year-old yelled from the kitchen. “President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize!”
I told her she had to be mistaken.
This is ridiculous — embarrassing, even. I admire President Obama. I like President Obama. I voted for President Obama. But the peace prize? This is supposed to be for doing, not being — and it’s no disrespect to the president to suggest he hasn’t done much yet. Certainly not enough to justify this prize.
“Extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples?” “Captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future?” Please. This turns the award into something like pee-wee soccer: Everybody wins for trying.… Seguir leyendo »
To far more people than we would like to admit, the mystery of James W. von Brunn, the alleged shooter at the Holocaust Memorial Museum, is not that he held such weird and depraved views about Jews and the Holocaust, but that those views are considered weird and depraved. In vast parts of the Islamic world, too many people not only deny the Holocaust but embrace the thinking that made it possible.
In his remarkable speech at Cairo University, President Obama only inferentially mentioned this aspect of what has become an ugly part of the Middle East: a tolerance for and advocacy of old-style anti-Semitism.… Seguir leyendo »
In 1947, a British lawyer with no experience in the region arrived in India to draw lines on a map. Within several weeks, Cyril Radcliffe had severed the future Pakistan from India, helping to create the conditions that have since resulted in three wars and the arming of both nations with nuclear weapons. People ask what America would do if Pakistan lost control of its nukes. Wrong question. Ask instead what India might do.
That country has as many as 100 nuclear weapons and the missiles, as well as the airplanes, submarines and surface ships, to launch them. Pakistan also has around 100 nuclear weapons but lacks India’s extensive delivery systems.… Seguir leyendo »