Generals and their Strategies: Patton and Napoleon on the Koran

Today, on my new Tumblr (samirchopra.tumblr.com) I posted two quotes on the Koran (or the Quran, take your pick). The first, by George S. Patton: Just finished reading the Koran—a good book and interesting. (George S. Patton Jr., War As I Knew It, Bantam Books, 1981, page 5. War Diary for North Africa landings ‘Operation Torch’,Continue reading “Generals and their Strategies: Patton and Napoleon on the Koran”

‘The Master’: Coming Undone And Putting It Back Together

One way to ‘read’ Paul Thomas Anderson‘s The Master is as an enormously ambitious, technically brilliant cinematic riff on Ron Hubbard and Scientology, on a time fertile for cults and messianic healing: post-WWII America, when broken men–post-traumatic stress disorder is as old as war–drifted back home, and were, just as many other Americans, looking forContinue reading “‘The Master’: Coming Undone And Putting It Back Together”

Respecting the President and ‘The Ideology of Kingship’

In reporting on the second presidential debate, Charles Blow writes: There is a fine line between feistiness and testiness. Romney has never negotiated that line well in debates and last night he fell over it again. At one point he scolded the president — the president of the United States! — “you’ll get your chance in aContinue reading “Respecting the President and ‘The Ideology of Kingship’”

It’s Fall: Time to Bash the Yankees

There are many fall-time rituals: road-trips to view colorful foliage, pumpkin sculpture and surgery, undressing for Halloween, griping endlessly about the wet and gloomy weather in the North-East, dreading the setting forward of the clocks as Daylight Savings Time runs out, going back to school and college, football watching on Sundays (and Mondays, Wednesdays, andContinue reading “It’s Fall: Time to Bash the Yankees”

Flippin’ Channels to the Debate and Stayin’ Right There

A few days ago, I posted a note here saying I would not deign to pay attention to the debates. Last night, after a dinner date with my Brooklyn College colleague, Corey Robin, during the course of which I remarked, ‘Debates are to you what sports are to me’, I returned home, intending to watchContinue reading “Flippin’ Channels to the Debate and Stayin’ Right There”

A Nerdy Break-Up: Leaving the Academic Life

In the past few weeks I have had several conversations–electronic and face-to-face–with folks–friends and acquaintances–that have walked away from academic careers. Though I do not have numbers to back this up, it seems such departures have become increasingly common in the modern academy. The reasons have been varied: bad job markets (some things never change; inContinue reading “A Nerdy Break-Up: Leaving the Academic Life”

Bridging Partisan Divides with Patriotism? No Thanks.

Have you, dear reader, seen the latest cinematic masterpiece making the rounds of YouTube channels, ‘Americans, Fuck Yeah‘? (I lie ever so slightly; the actual title is just ‘Americans’.) Directed by James Stafford and starring musical maestro Kid Rock and actor and director Sean Penn, it aims to bring Americans together, to bridge partisan divides,Continue reading “Bridging Partisan Divides with Patriotism? No Thanks.”

The Extravagant, Space-Time Distorting Business of Time Cleaning

This morning Jason Read of the University of Southern Maine posted the following photograph on his Facebook page  (due to Tom McGlynn, to whom I owe thanks for letting me reproduce it here). Jason added: Just looking at it makes me want to write a bad science fiction novel about the unglamorous, dangerous, and low-payingContinue reading “The Extravagant, Space-Time Distorting Business of Time Cleaning”

Mary McCarthy on Madame Bovary as Neurotic

Among the most famous descriptions of Emma Bovary are Mary McCarthy‘s cutting lines: [She] is a very ordinary middle-class woman, with banal expectations of life and an urge to dominate her surroundings. Her character is remarkable only for an unusual deficiency of natural feeling. Ouch. But what follows these lines is a perhaps more interestingContinue reading “Mary McCarthy on Madame Bovary as Neurotic”

Mr. Panetta Warns of Danger And Would Like to Spy on You

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta comes a-calling, warning us of the dangers of cyberwarfare, of a new ‘Pearl Harbor’ that lies ahead. He conjures up devastating visions of the nation’s ‘cyber-infrastructure’ by a band of code warriors, sneaky rogues that could: [D]erail passenger trains, or even more dangerous, derail passenger trains loaded with lethal chemicals. TheyContinue reading “Mr. Panetta Warns of Danger And Would Like to Spy on You”