Face Of The Day

Aug 28 2014 @ 7:12pm
by Dish Staff

Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone

A soldier inspects a woman with an infrared thermometer for signs of fever, one of the symptoms of Ebola, at a checkpoint in Nikabo, a village in Kenema, Sierra Leone, on August 27, 2014. According to the World Health Organization, the outbreak has now killed more than 1,500 people across four West African countries, including at least 120 healthcare workers. Photo by Mohammed Elshamy/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images.

Also, a reader passes along this heartbreaking update on Saah Exco, the ten-year-old Liberian boy we featured last week on the Dish.

by Phoebe Maltz Bovy

I want to thank the Dish readers who responded to my recent post on anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism. Yes, even the furious ones. You’ve helped clarify my thoughts on the topic. Below, I respond to several (overlapping) dissents. One reader writes:

Regarding Phoebe’s post “It really doesn’t matter whether or not you agree with the Israeli government’s policies,” I think she and others are misreading the NYT’s letter to the editor, or at least I (and I’m sure the many others to whom this letter is not “jumping out”) read it very differently. I do not read the reference to “patrons” to mean Jews living outside Israel. I read “patrons” to mean countries (obviously, most specifically in this instance the United States). The term “patron” is routinely used in the context of foreign affairs (and in the NYT) to describe one country that provides some kind of support (financial, military, etc.) to another country or entity. This is particularly true in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian/Hamas/Hezbollah conflict. The United States is routinely described as a patron of Israel, and Iran and Syria are routinely described as patrons of Hamas and Hezbollah. Given the context it is far less likely that the writer intended “patrons” to mean Jews or some “nice little loophole” than that the writer was simply using common vernacular to refer to the countries who aid and support Israel and who most certainly do have influence over the Israeli government.

These angles of the issue should really be addressed in a post like this on the Dish. While there should not be any connection between anti-semitism against Jews (whether in the U.S., Europe, or anywhere) and the Israeli government’s policies, it is a simple fact that there is a connection. Does Phoebe contend that there is not a connection between Israel’s policies and anti-semitism? (which, again, is plainly a different question from whether there should be a connection). And, if there is a connection then what exactly is objectionable in the writer’s paragraph about Israel’s patrons if “patrons” is read to mean the United States and other Western governments, as that term is widely used in foreign affairs?

I’ll address the second paragraph later, but first, the first: I agree that “patrons” is ambiguous, and that it’s entirely possible that Bruce Shipman meant countries (or just the US), not global Jewry. Indeed, the most charitable explanation I can come up with, reading, rereading, and rereading the letter some more, is that, by “patrons,” he meant the US government. If that was what he meant, though, he might have said so, and not relied on highly sophisticated readers catching the foreign-policy jargon. There would have been a clear way to indicate exactly which parties he was holding accountable, and he opted against. What reads to me, and to some other Jews, as a dog whistle doesn’t read that way to all. That’s… the trouble with dog whistles. Either you hear it or you don’t. As it stands, he used roundabout language that leaves very much open the possibility that he means Jews. After all, as another reader points out, many Jews do patronize Israel:

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The View From Your Window

Aug 28 2014 @ 6:18pm
by Dish Staff

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Los Angeles, 6.48 am

Teaching A Fish To Walk

Aug 28 2014 @ 5:44pm
by Dish Staff

Carl Zimmer unpacks a fascinating new study, on bichirs (a type fish that “mostly live in lakes and rivers” but “will sometimes crawl across dry land with their fins”):

McGill scientists wondered what would happen if they forced the fish to grow up out of the water. To find out, they reared eight bichirs in a terrarium with a pebble-strewn floor. To prevent the bichirs from drying out, the scientists installed a mister to keep their skin moist. The fish grew for eight months, clambering around their terrarium instead of swimming.

Then the scientists examined these fish out of water. They found that eight months on dry land (or at least moist land) had wreaked profound changes to the bichirs.

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Is The Islamic State A State?

Aug 28 2014 @ 5:12pm
by Dish Staff

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D.B. revisits the question of whether ISIS can really live up to its self-proclaimed “statehood“:

IS’s mission is to create its own caliphate, but until now many of its sources of revenue have depended on its host states. … IS has not proven adept at running anything other than the most basic functions of a state in the past—dispensing justice and, in most cases, providing bread, the staple food. In 2013 in Raqqa it attempted to take over the opposition’s civilian-run local council, which had continued to pay road sweepers and keep ambulances on the road. Locals say it soon handed back control after it failed to deliver, angering residents. The IS model of stealing from and feeding off the Syrian and Iraqi states has worked well so far. But it will become much more difficult for IS to rule its territory if the Damascus and Baghdad governments stop being so helpful.

That’s why a massive humanitarian aid effort is a big part of Zalmay Khalilzad’s suggested action plan for how to defeat ISIS:

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Literary “Self-Segregation”

Aug 28 2014 @ 4:46pm
by Dish Staff

Jess Row ponders why “most white writers, like most white Americans, particularly those over 30, still feel a profound psychic distance between themselves and black people”:

[T]he defining experiences for people my age (that is, Generations X and Y) fall in the tumultous years between 1988 and 1992—the years of Tawana Brawley, Howard Beach, the Central Park Five, and the L.A. Riots—when a furious debate over canonicity and inclusion raged in the academy, when Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton came to prominence, Malcolm X superseded MLK, when Ice Cube talked about killing blue-eyed devils, and t-shirts everywhere said “It’s a Black thing…you wouldn’t understand.”

That era seems like ancient history now, but it has everything to do with why American fiction and poetry remain relentlessly segregated spaces, even though many of our greatest and most visible artists are artists of color. For many white Americans, the takeaway message of that complicated time, consciously or sub- or un-, was like a second, post-Civil-Rights response to “The White Negro”: that for a white person to try to say anything meaningful about race, or racism, was not only ridiculous, but shameful, and also somehow dangerous.

Row concludes by addressing a likely counterargument: So what if white writers ignore race?

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Mental Health Break

Aug 28 2014 @ 4:20pm
by Dish Staff

A super-close supercut:

(Edited together by Jaume R. Lloret. Hat tip: Justin Page)

The Sex Offender Next Door

Aug 28 2014 @ 4:01pm
by Dish Staff

Jesse Singal argues that registered sex offenders should be able to live wherever they please:

[L]aws designed to restrict where sex offenders can live are really and truly useless, except as a means of politicians scoring easy political points by ratcheting up hysteria. There are many tricky social-scientific issues on which there are a range of opinions and some degree of debate among experts, but this isn’t one of them. Among those whose job it is to figure out how to reduce the rate at which sex offenders commit crimes (as opposed to those whose job it is to get reelected, in part by hammering away at phantom threats), there is zero controversy: These laws don’t work, and may actually increase sexual offenders’ recidivism rates.

As for where sex offenders do live, Alyssa Coppelman interviews Noah Rabinowitz, who photographed a Florida religious community the majority of whose residents are part of that population:

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A Poem For Thursday

Aug 28 2014 @ 3:42pm
by Alice Quinn

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Our last selection from Samuel Daniel’s sonnet sequence, To Delia:

When winter snows upon thy sable hairs,
And frost of age hath nipped thy beauties near,
When dark shall seem thy day that never clears,
And all lies withered that was held so dear,
Then take this picture which I here present thee,
Limned with a pencil not all unworthy;
Here see the gifts that God and nature lent thee,
Here read thyself and what I suffered for thee.
This may remain thy lasting monument,
Which happily posterity may cherish;
These colors with thy fading are not spent,
These may remain when thou and I shall perish.
If they remain, then thou shalt live thereby;
They will remain, and so thou canst not die.

For background and context, read my introduction to the first poem from Daniel we featured here.

(Photo by Shaun Fisher)

The Path To Legalization In DC

Aug 28 2014 @ 3:24pm
by Dish Staff

Jon Walker finds a silver lining to gridlock on the Hill:

[L]ast month the House approved the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill with a policy rider from Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) which would prevent D.C. from using funds to implement marijuana reform. It was designed to stop Initiative 71, a local marijuana legalization ballot measure which is expected to win with strong support from D.C. voters this November.

Because of this historic level of dysfunction in Congress this particular appropriations bill is likely to die and all its policy riders will die with it. Instead Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) expects that when Congress briefly returns next month they will just pass a clean (meaning policy rider-free) continuing resolution to cover all funding issues until after the election. Professional budget watcher Stan Collender expects that continuing resolution to be followed by yet another one in November to maintain the status quo well into 2015.

He adds that, “At minimum, pushing any final fight about Congress interfering in D.C.’s marijuana laws until after the election should make it politically more difficult to do so.” In a post from earlier this month, Walker laid out why he’s looking forward to DC’s legalization fight:

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