Je Suis Encore Charlie?

Charlie was a pretty good musician. He played guitar, composed songs. Dennis Wilson, the drummer and co-founder of the Beach Boys, befriended Charlie and tried to help him make it in the music industry. He arranged for the young man to make a studio album, which eventually came out in 1974. But before that, the Beach Boys recorded a tune Charlie had written for them. The song, “Never Learn Not...
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Splinterlands: The View from 2050

Let me start with a confession. I’m old-fashioned and I have an old-fashioned profession: I’m a geo-paleontologist. That means I dig around in archives to exhume the extinct: all the empires and federations and territorial unions that have passed into history. I practically created the profession of geo-paleontology as a young scholar in 2020. (We used to joke that we were the only historians...
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Burma: Democracy with an Asterisk

Voters went to the polls last Sunday in Burma to elect a new parliament. The opposition National League for Democracy (NLD) — Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi’s party — scored an impressive victory. According to the early returns, the NLD is on track to win over 80 percent of the vote and capture a sizeable majority in parliament. And yet the election carries with it an asterisk...
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Syria’s Two-Body Problem

In medieval Europe, the king had two bodies. He sat on his throne in his own personal body, which suffered from the same sicknesses and infirmities that afflict all corporeal beings. But he also possessed a second body, the body politic, which represented the entire realm. The king served as “head of state,” a phrase that harkens back to this peculiar political theology. After the death of...
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