Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Some interesting but not too cheery links

I suppose the theme of these links is 'depressing features of the modern world'. Even my cartoon link is sad. For cheerful stories, look elsewhere today.

1. How Islamic is Islamic State? Very. (The clue's in the name, perhaps.) This is a proper look at the doctrine of Islamic State, and it turns out to be pretty orthodox, which implications both good and bad for unbelievers. In general, you should regard people as sincere rather than cynical in their utterances, e.g. Saddam Hussein. Perhaps surprisingly, the piece about ISIS seems to feature the most likeable people from this batch of links.

2. Burning people to death is pretty common, says Glenn Greenwald.

3. Twitter is mad and it can make you mad too. This is an awful story about people on the receiving end of twitterstorms (or whatever the word is). It converts the trivial into tragedy in ways Thomas Hardy never imagined and William Trevor would not suggest.

4. So many things have gone wrong in getting to where we are at the end of this story that I hesitate to venture any views at all. I would only say this: although it is about a woman who at one point sends an email that includes the words "Your kindness, integrity, desire to make the world a better place and willingness/confidence to make it happen is severely unique and an incredible thing to witness" and a man (the recipient of that email, no less) who at one point spends $30,000 on a chair to use during a television watching party, do not let those facts put you off.

5. Finally, "Putin believes that Germany is now a posthistorical nation in the sense that it is unwilling to fight. ... German politicians and newspaper intellectuals prattle on about NATO, Putin believes, but when the chips are down, they would rather yield a thousand Donbasses than fight a single campaign. ... The United States, meanwhile, is from this Russian perspective strategically clueless and largely out of the game. President Obama is amusing himself with various pursuits and his incoherent and crisis-ridden Middle East mix of policies gives him no time to think hard about Europe; Congress lacks the cohesion and the constitutional means to force an alternative on him." Read more in a similar vein here.

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