July 08, 2002



If you get a chance, pick up the current Atlantic Monthly. It's superb:

*Jon Rauch's reminder of the Tokyo firebombings... perhaps the greatest loss of innocent civilian life in the history of warfare, committed by nighttime B-29s, and almost entirely unremembered;

*David Brooks on the real truth about Yasir Arafat;

*P.J. O'Rourke, in his usual form;

*Michael Benson's unbelievably good piece on NASA's webcam, space, exploration and religion;

*Jon Cohen on the moral dilemma of scientists whose work could lead to a killer bioterrorist's greatest day;

*and best of all, part one of William Langewiesche's superb telling of the clearing of the World Trade Center site. Unbelievably riveting. This issue should be mandatory for coffee tables and doctors' offices everywhere. You won't put it down for hours.

PS: Also of note, recently, was Edward Said's devastating critique of Bernard Lewis' latest book (You may not agree with what he says, but Said was always a cutting critic, and he's in fine form here) in Harper's. The Stanley Fish piece in the same issue is a must read, if only to figure out what Andrew Sullivan's so persnickety about this month.

It's interesting how post Sept. 11 (or post Lewis Lapham's arrival, hard to tell) we're seeing ever more clearly the juxtaposition of these two fine historic monthlies, with entirely different approaches to the current crisis. There was a time only a couple years back when you could imagine their articles as more or less interchangeable... no longer, though. While Lapham and Harper's poke holes in, downplay, or generally ignore Sept. 11 and the aftershocks, the Atlantic's editors and writers are like a bunch of big, superbly written long-form warbloggers.

Posted by BruceR at 05:29 PM



Remarkable. While I can see the ruthless logic in Den Beste and others' leave-them-alone-it's-too-late philosophy, the coming crisis in the Horn of Africa threatens to do something we haven't seen since the Conquest of America, or at least the Communist starvation of the Ukraine... actually depopulate part of a continent. With average life expectancies falling below 30 in some cases, the effects will last the rest of my lifetime and probably the next generation's, too. People pleading for more aid now aren't trying to save the vast majority... everyone knows that's impossible now. Like a nuclear bomb shelter program, or an asteroid impact scenario as seen in the movie Deep Impact, they're just trying to save enough adults that rebuilding of the culture and society will even be possible in the later half of this century. Who picks who lives? Who would have picked for us, if the nukes (or meteors) had started dropping?

Posted by BruceR at 05:15 PM