Macabre Fires
April 1, 2009


I have nothing kind to say about the cultural obsession with crime, exemplified in gruesome shows like CSI and in wonderful TV moments like Nancy Grace badgering a mother into committing suicide (Nancy’s response: “The truth … is not always nice or polite or easy to go down. Sometimes it’s harsh, and it hurts”). But this obsession is an enduring part of human nature, and I succumb to it on occasion as well. For example, consider the case of the arsons in the Philadelphia suburb of Coatesville.



Gaza and Terrorism
January 12, 2009

Yglesias: “The oddity of terrorism as an enterprise is that, in essence, it’s an effort by a weaker party to trick the stronger party into weakening [itself] by engaging in panicky overreactions.” Excepting nuclear terrorism, this is exactly right, and it’s really what’s so upsetting for me about the Gaza situation (in addition, of course, to the death and suffering). Everyone knows this is how terrorism works (it’s right there in the name!) and yet it still seems to work every time. It’s troubling because we (i.e. Israel and America) have learned the historical lesson of how terrorism succeeds, but we still repeat the same mistakes. I don’t know whether it’s because terrorism is uniquely psychologically effective or because our societies are structured to incentivize overreaction, but it’s important to be able not only to learn lessons, but to apply them and adapt.