Showing posts with the label Politics

God is not Great

God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher Hitchens. This book has many reviews already, there's no point in trying to write one more. Hitchens brings vividly the inconsistencies in religious philosophy forward and he finds these in every major religion of contemporary times. Whereas some reviews compress his writing into a simplified label "radical atheist", his book is much more than so often seen scribblings by barely literate fundamentalists or even worse, in this day and time, the sending of messages by beheading people on poorly taped TV. The book brings facets of the interplay of society and religion, the long history of this relation and some of the sour fruits of it including those of religious power over society. The best word for the book is given by Mr. Hitchens himself, I had the privilege to attend Mr. Hitchen's talk at Google in Mountain View and I am happy we are able to share this talk with the public.

The Oil and the Glory

The Oil and the Glory: The Pursuit of Empire and Fortune on the Caspian Sea by Steve LeVine. Steve LeVine covered Central Asia and the Caucasus for The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times for 11 years — starting two weeks after the Soviet collapse through 2003. From 1988-1991, LeVine was Newsweek's Pakistan-based correspondent for that country and Afghanistan. While the book doesn't have the documented rigor of say Taubman's biography on Khruschev it is quite clear that Steve knows very well the region; central Asia, the Caucasus and Russia. Moreover the book is vivid in both historical detail and the well rounded detail on the cast of players. It's importance is not only in shedding light the light on the region it covers, but even more so into understanding the dynamics at play in some of world's most influential corporations. The book has a great balance of historical context and a detailed account of the power struggles around the oil in the Caspian basin

A New Branch of Human Civilization

Continuing on Mars a little bit, one of the interesting long term consequences of exploring and eventually colonizing Mars is the fact that the colonists may be branching human civilization. Zubrin and Wagner don’t go into great depths trying to describe what the civilization would look like but note that it would give a fresh start to part of humanity and it would certainly be a different start as the physical conditions on Mars are radically different than those on earth. As part of mission support in simulations on earth on the arctic and desert stations I witnessed human factors research - however, this research was in essence limited to the workings of small teams in an isolated environment and for short periods of time. There was nothing touching on economy or social order in those simulations, and it couldn’t be as the crew sizes and objectives were completely different. Now apparently a group of people from Sweden and their supporters are trying to, in a way, create a “new bran

Doomsday Clock

N. Korea Reports 1st Nuclear Arms Test. Here’s the coverage in the NYT. The decision to set off a nuclear device could profoundly change the politics of Asia. “North Korea’s decision to conduct the test demonstrated what the world has suspected for years: the country has joined India, Pakistan and Israel as one of the world’s “undeclared” nuclear powers. India and Pakistan conducted tests in 1998; Israel has never acknowledged conducting a test or possessing a weapon. But by actually setting off a weapon, if that is proven, the North has chosen to end years of carefully crafted and diplomatically useful ambiguity about its abilities.” “The test occurred only a week after Japan installed a new, more nationalistic prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and just as the country was renewing a debate about whether its ban on possessing nuclear weapons — deeply felt in a country that saw two of its cities incinerated in 1945 — still makes strategic sense.” The Doomsday Clock has not moved since 2002