Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Gaza Strip

Paul Pillar has a good piece summarizing Israel's current dilemma. Here are the first paragraphs:

Two recent pieces of news highlight, one indirectly and the other directly, the plight of inhabitants of the miserable patch known as the Gaza Strip.  The indirect report involves demographic data, based on official Israeli numbers that surfaced in a parliamentary inquiry, showing that in all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, there are now about as many Arabs as Jews.  It has long been obvious that this point would be reached, given that the population of Palestinian Arabs has been growing faster than that of Israeli Jews (though not as fast as ultra-Orthodox Israeli Jews, who pose a separate set of questions for Israel regarding such issues as military service and payment of taxes).  The trend means that from this point forward, Arabs will constitute an ever-larger majority in the land that Israel controls.
This demographic fact underlies the oft-cited trilemma in which it is impossible for Israel to be Jewish, to be democratic, and to be in control of all the land from the Mediterranean to the Jordan.  Israel can be any two of those things, but it has to ditch one of the three.  The current right-wing Israeli government clearly has decided to ditch democracy, although the painful truth of the trilemma and of the implications of embracing apartheid rather than equal political rights for all weighs heavily on the thoughts of many other Israelis.

Monday, April 16, 2018

The AR-15

From Heather Sher, writing for the Atlantic:
In a typical handgun injury that I diagnose almost daily, a bullet leaves a laceration through an organ like the liver. To a radiologist, it appears as a linear, thin, grey bullet track through the organ. There may be bleeding and some bullet fragments.
I was looking at a CT scan of one of the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, who had been brought to the trauma center during my call shift. The organ looked like an overripe melon smashed by a sledgehammer, with extensive bleeding. How could a gunshot wound have caused this much damage?

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

A Little Humor

NEIGHBOR "Hi, Fred, this is Alan next door. I have a confession to make. I have been riddled with guilt these past few months and have been trying to get up the courage to tell you face-to-face, but I felt I should at least telling you in text as I cannot live with myself a moment longer without you knowing. The truth is I have been sharing your wife, day and night, when you’re not around. In fact, probably more than you. I haven’t been getting it at home recently, but I know that’s no excuse. The temptation was just too great. I can no longer live with the guilt and hope that you will accept my sincerest apology and forgive me. It won’t happen again. Please suggest a fee for usage and I’ll pay you. Regards, Alan" NEIGHBOR’S RESPONSE Fred, feeling so angered and betrayed then grabbed his gun and shot his neighbor Alan dead. He returned home, poured himself a stiff drink, and sat down on the sofa. Fred took out his phone where he saw a second message from Alan. SECOND MESSAGE "Hi, Fred, this is Alan next door, again. Sorry about the typo on my last text. I expect that you figured it out and noticed that darned Auto-Correct changed “wi-fi” to “wife.” That’s today’s technology for you, hey. Regards, Alan"

Sunday, April 08, 2018

The Man in the High Castle

I've been watching The Man in the High Castle, a series based on a novel by Phillip K. Dick. It's an interesting story, looking at an alternative reality in which the Nazis and Japanese are victorious in World War 2.

Wednesday, April 04, 2018

Our Posthuman Future: My Thoughts on the Book

I've been reading Francis Fukuyama's book Our Posthuman Future. While I don't much care his rightwing slant, he is a good and insightful writer, showing how our society's current use of drugs and other technologies have already allowed us to alter human nature. As he points out, we're in very dangerous territory since this has all been done according to the sort of knee-jerk desires of the marketplace. (Fukuyama, in spite of his right wing bonafides, is an advocate of much more government involvement in constraining our adventure in our posthuman future).