I’ve been watching the political tumult in the Middle East with interest since before the “Arab Spring” first broke out in late 2010. After writing a research paper on the political economy of the United Arab Emirates for one college class, I decided to keep my research focused in the Arab world for my next class, on the “Diffusion of Democracy,” in the spring of 2008. I wrote a case study of three different Arab countries in different situations — oil-rich monarchy Kuwait, impoverished monarchy Jordan, and massive then-dictatorship Egypt.
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“Jurassic Park,” the 1993 film*, is so misunderstood even the film’s writers (including source material author Michael Crichton) and director Steven Spielberg got messed up.
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Has America eaten all its "low-hanging fruit"? A look at technology and the economic slowdown.
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In which overthinking helps me come to grips with a word to which I have a visceral dislike.
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How ancient perspectives on what kind of taxes were appropriate for free people to pay continue to shape 21st Century government.
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J.J. Abrams’ new film Star Trek Into Darkness has just enough thoughts floating around its unexceptional script to make the viewer conscious of what could have been, but not enough to make it interesting. Its visuals are flashy enough to entertain but not dynamic enough to transfix. It is a profoundly disappointing movie.
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The shifting nature of TV has helped redefine the level of commitment required to be a true "fan."
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I’ve traveled reasonably broadly, though far from thoroughly. As I plan how I’m going to use my vacation time this year, it occurred to me that there’s one vast region of the country I haven’t even touched: the South.
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This is mildly embarrassing, but also amusing, so I thought I would share:
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Fellow Sioux Falls journalist Kristi Eaton is writing a blog about “quarterlife crises” — the pressure and problems 20-somethings can feel as they grow into full adulthood. Her most recent post contained a passing anecdote that struck me:
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A little audio editing turns a haunting dirge into an even more haunting round.
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Back when secession petitions were dominating the public eye after the 2012 election, I moved past the Civil War references and political disputes to take a look at what to me was a much more interesting question: if a U.S. state did legally secede from the Union, what would be the impact? My analysis looked at currency, trade, immigration, budgets, taxes and Internet domain names.
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A look at how different state boundaries might change politics and everyday life.
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A continuing series. From The Barbarian Conversion: From Paganism to Christianity, by Richard Fletcher, p. 209:
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Late tonight, I’ll be sacrificing my sleep along with some friends and coworkers at the midnight opening of Peter Jackson’s “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.” It’s a film I’ve been anticipating for some time and have written about at length twice on this site.
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A themed mixtape uses assembled songs to tell the story of a tragic life.
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This week, the network formerly known as SciFi announced it was developing a remake of the 1970s space opera “Blake’s 7.” A year ago or so, this would have meant nothing to me. But since then, as part of my periodic cultural catchup project, I watched the entire run of Terry Nation’s show.
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Here follows a listing of the characters in season one of “Downton Abbey,” arranged in ascending order of fundamental human decency:
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After publishing my prior post, a friend sent me a great long video of a discussion between astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and an out-of-character Stephen Colbert. One exchange in particular resonated in light of what I had just written. That’s embedded below, set to start at this exchange (rewind to 6:15 for the start of the interview). The part I bolded below gets at the core of what I posted earlier today:
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I've tried to boil down what matters to me into a few key maxims.
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Look, Peter Jackson. I was skeptical at first about “The Hobbit,” but you won me over by unveiling characters that showed you understood and cared about J.R.R. Tolkien’s work (if not in the original spirit of the bedtime-story “Hobbit.”)
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Whenever a work of fiction creates a world that doesn’t abide by our familiar rules, there’s a choice: how much do the creators constrain themselves by writing the new rules?
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Having just gotten back from a trip in which I took four plane flights in under a week, I thought I would briefly post links to two old reports underlying how much of the hassle travelers undergo these days is entirely pointless and doesn’t accomplish the stated reasons.
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The Designated Hitter rule in baseball may make the game more exciting. It’s still a travesty.
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A new drama from ABC promises to combine two of my favorite concepts: civilization-building, and submarines.
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Longtime Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood retired today in the most fitting fashion possible: with a K.