Marginalia

Odd scraps, bits and pieces, notes from other blogs and other stuff.


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Elizabeth Cady Stanton, declared herself a candidate for Congress from the 8th Congressional District of New York, even though women did not yet have the right to vote. As a mother and a feminist, Stanton reported “four hundred murders annually produced by abortion in [one] county alone,” Condemning the “murder of children, either before or after birth,” Stanton “pointed to the only remedy, the education and enfranchisement of woman….” politically unclassifiable
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Mandela is gone now and it appears as if his vision, his legacy, and the moral leadership he provided have been all but forgotten by a party caught up in a tawdry, inward-looking battle to prevent President Jacob Zuma from accepting responsibility for the massive state expenditure on his Nkandla home as well as protecting him from various other scandals that have dogged his administration. Dalai Lama debacle: Whose country is it anyway? | Daily Maverick
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Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology. Card-carrying rationalists like Dawkins, who is the nearest thing to a professional atheist we have had since Bertrand Russell, are in one sense the least well-equipped to understand what they castigate, since they don’t believe there is anything there to be understood, or at least anything worth understanding. This is why they invariably come up with vulgar caricatures of religious faith that would make a first-year theology student wince. The more they detest religion, the more ill-informed their criticisms of it tend to be. If they were asked to pass judgment on phenomenology or the geopolitics of South Asia, they would no doubt bone up on the question as assiduously as they could. When it comes to theology, however, any shoddy old travesty will pass muster. These days, theology is the queen of the sciences in a rather less august sense of the word than in its medieval heyday. Terry Eagleton reviews ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins · LRB 19 October 2006
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There is little indication that Barak Obama is more aware. In striving to crush ISIL without an alliance with Syria and Iran, and relying on the reluctant Saudis and NATO, he is (1) recruiting thousands more anti-U.S. Sunni jihadis into ISIL ranks and (2) exacerbating a Sunni-Shiite war while marginalizing key Shiite players. ISIS and Washington’s Ignorance About the Sunni-Shia Divide » CounterPunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names
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Few Americans know of the absurd contradictions of our foreign policy in Iraq and other places over the past few decades, yet I found that many Iraqis and Syrians knew the history well. The United States, through covert support of the Iraqi Ba’ath in the 1960’s and 1970’s, sponsored Saddam’s rise to power as a way to combat perceived communist influence and populist national movements in the Middle East. Throughout that time, the CIA-supported Ba’ath engaged in “cleansing campaigns” which involved door-to-door death squads offing Washington’s enemies based on questionable lists provided through covert liaisons. Iraq, ISIS, and The Myth of Sisyphus - Foreign Policy Journal
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In the seventeen years between 1992 and 2009, the Russian population declined by almost seven million people, or nearly 5 percent—a rate of loss unheard of in Europe since World War II. Moreover, much of this appears to be caused by rising mortality. By the mid-1990s, the average St. Petersburg man lived for seven fewer years than he did at the end of the Communist period; in Moscow, the dip was even greater, with death coming nearly eight years sooner. The Dying Russians by Masha Gessen | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books