Last year, Lauren Rosenberg was walking across a four-lane highway in Utah when she was hit by a car. Now she’s suing Google for $100,000 in damages because Google Maps told her to take that route.
The full-page ads in The Washington Post seem so reasonable. The military contractor Pratt & Whitney has been arguing that America doesn’t need to spend $485 million to develop a second engine for the F-35 jet fighter. It’s a compelling argument. We’re in a serious economic crisis, so why on earth would we build another jet engine when the first one is sufficient?
Kim Jong Il must work for the American Enterprise Institute. Or maybe it’s the Heritage Foundation. The North Korean dictator doesn’t talk much about his non-resident fellowship at a right-wing U.S. think tank. It might not go over well with the Politburo in Pyongyang.
“I need a little space.”
When lovers utter these words, it’s usually a bad sign for the relationship. They feel suffocated. They’re reexamining their commitment. They’re checking out other options. But they don’t have the courage to make a clean break.
The bubble is bursting.
I’m not talking about the Greek economy, the collapse of which has bankers and finance ministers trembling from Athens to Antarctica. Nor am I talking about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which reminds us once again that our current energy security rests on shaky foundations.
North Korea and Israel have a lot in common.
Neither is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and both employ their nuclear weapons in elaborate games of peek-a-boo with the international community. Israel and North Korea are equally paranoid about outsiders conspiring to destroy their states, and this paranoia isn’t without some justification. Partly as a result of these suspicions, both countries engage in reckless and destabilizing foreign policies. In recent years, Israel has launched preemptive strikes and invaded other countries, while North Korea has abducted foreign citizens and blown up South Korean targets (including, possibly, a South Korean ship in late March in the Yellow Sea).
If the Russian army makes the bold decision to invade Germany, we can just nuke those damn communist soldiers into oblivion with the 200 tactical nuclear weapons we deploy in Europe. Oh, they’re not communists any longer? Oh, Germany and Russia have excellent relations at the moment? Oh, the Cold War has been over for two decades?
Let’s imagine that the Cold War was a detour. The entire 20th century, in fact, was a detour. Since conflicts among the 20th-century ideologies (liberalism, communism, fascism) cost humanity so dearly, it’s hard to conceive of World War II and the clashes that followed as sideshows. And yet many people have begun to do just that. They view the period we find ourselves in right now — the so-called post-Cold War era — as a return to a much earlier time and a much earlier confrontation. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq aren’t discrete battles against a tyrant (Saddam Hussein) or a tyrannical group (the Taliban). They fit together with Turkey’s resurgence, the swell of Muslim immigration to Europe, and Israel’s settlement policy to form part of a much larger struggle.
In the Mayan game of pitz, the first team sport in human history, two sets of players squared off in a ball court that could stretch as long as a football field. The object of the game was to use hips and elbows to keep the ball in the air and, if possible, get it through a hoop set high on a stone wall. The ball was roughly the size and heft of a human head. Indeed, given the sheer number of decapitations in the Popol Vuh, the sacred Mayan text that prominently features the game, scholars have not ruled out the possibility that the teams sometimes played with the heads of sacrificial victims. It’s also probable that, at the conclusion of the game, one team or the other fell en masse beneath the priests’ daggers.