Best of the Moment
Michael Ignatieff | New York Review Of Books | 13th September 2013
"From stalemate comes a ray of hope, the hope that all the external sponsors of the conflict will begin to reduce weapons supplies to all sides. A strategy of asphyxiation could be followed by concerted pressure at the UN for a negotiated cease-fire. If no side can win it all, it is just conceivable that each may settle for what it already has. The result would be a divided Syria, with effective authority in the north and east in rebel and Kurdish hands."
Amanda Schaffer | New Yorker | 13th September 2013
Review of Five Days at Memorial, by Sheri Fink, about doctors at Memorial Medical Center in New Orleans during the Hurrican Katrina aftermath. In despair, some allegedly euthanized critically ill patients. Fink first reported the story for the New York Times in 2009. In this book: "The contours of the story remain the same, yet Fink imbues them with far more narrative richness, making the doctors seem both more sympathetic and more culpable"
Jonathan Franzen | Guardian | 13th September 2013
In praise of the early-20C Viennese satirist Karl Kraus. "To Kraus, the supposed cultural charm of Vienna amounted to a tissue of hypocrisies stretched over soon-to-be-catastrophic contradictions, which he was bent on unmasking with his satire. Our situation looks quite a bit like Vienna's in 1910, except that newspaper technology has been replaced by digital technology and Viennese charm by American coolness"
Fiona Hill | Foreign Affairs | 11th September 2013
First published on September 6th, now ungated, so a few days behind the news, but a durable analysis of the underlying strategies. "Putin knows what he is doing. He stands back while others blunder in and act in the heat of the moment. He needles and riles his opponents so they trip themselves up and do his work for him. Putin intends to win this particular round of his sparring match over Syria on points"
Jennifer Yang | Toronto Star | 9th September 2013
Chencho Dorji was moved to train as Bhutan's first psychiatrist after his schizophrenic brother Damchoy almost killed him, and was locked up by the family for ten years. Even today, he is one of only two psychiatrists in a country of 730,000 people, where illnesses are typically blamed on spirits. “In Bhutan, we still have a lot of catatonia. We have a lot of this because they wait at home until they become completely frozen"
Thought for the day:
"An insect is far more complex than a star" — Martin Rees