Didactic SynCast #56: A Key to the Nose

Yeah, I changed the name. So what? I explain on this week’s SynCast. Listen and enjoy.

DS #56: A Key to the Nose

Top 3 Links of the Week

Current Events


Killer Robots, etc


Deviant SynCast #54

DS #54: Sharks and Stocks

Sorry for the delay — end of the quarter is always a busy time at school. I was going to do a show about different things other than economics and war and stuff, but there’s just too much going on! Hopefully next week.

Meantime, enjoy the show and please check out these links:

Top Three

Trayvon Martin

Afghanistan, Iraq, and Iran


Education, etc.

Deviant SynCast Episode 53: Fury over Foxconn Fakery

Deviant SynCast #53: Fury over Foxconn Fakery

New SynCast! Enjoy.

Here are the links for this week’s show:

Current Events



Et Cetera


The American Scholar featured a potent — and lyrical — article today called “Afghanistan: A Gathering Menace” by Neil Shea. He writes disturbingly about what he’s seen during his trips to Afghanistan with US troops.

Since 2006 I have written off and on about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nearly all of my work in those countries has been done embedded with NATO, mostly American military units. Many times I have watched soldiers or Marines, driven by boredom or fear, behave selfishly and meanly, even illegally, in minor ways. In a few searing moments I have wondered what would come next, what the men would do to prisoners or civilians or suspected insurgents. And I have wondered how to describe these moments without reporting melodramatic minutiae or betraying the men who allowed me in.

I worry about how soldiers deal with the stresses of combat, and — especially in light of the Panjwai shooting spree — what suffering might be dished out to the people ostensibly being helped by our presence overseas.

Amy Goodman and Juan Gonzalez interviewed the author today on DemocracyNow!

What I saw with these guys in Afghanistan when I was with them was that several of them had already been through multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they had reached a point where they hated Afghans, they hated the country, and they were really not interested in doing any of the hearts and minds stuff anymore that’s a crucial part of the mission. So by the time I reached these guys, they had already been sort of—they had been building up anger and aggression in strange ways for a number of years.

And, of course, when these guys return home, they often have trouble returning to civilian life. I worry that we’re dropping the ball as a society when it comes to taking care of our soldiers.

And if — as seems likely — our presence is making things worse (“It was like a week-long Taliban recruiting drive”), shouldn’t we get the heck out of Afghanistan already?

God Hates V

I won’t waste your time discussing the many reprehensible things about Westboro Baptist Church. (Today they won a victory at the US Supreme Court.) They’re in a class of atrocity moron that may deserve pity and abject dismissal, rather than rage or argument.

But this still (which apparently isn’t even in the video) from a CNN story on the group really caught my eye. Specifically the sign on the left, with V in a gun’s crosshairs.

What’s the message supposed to be on that one? God hates people who wear masks? Does God also hate The Phantom of the Opera? What about kids who go trick-or-treating?

Maybe they’re saying that God hates people with single-letter names. Does God also therefore hate M and Q from the James Bond films? What about the artist formerly known as Prince?

Or perhaps Westboro is protesting against hideously disfigured intellectuals who commit acts of artistic liberation and radical education? Or people who speak alliteratively?

Here’s What They Think About You

Next time someone asks why people in other countries would ever support the Taliban or Al Qaeda, refer them to this article.

The boys, who were 9 to 15 years old, were attacked on Tuesday in what amounted to one of the war’s worst cases of mistaken killings by foreign-led forces. The victims included two sets of brothers. A 10th boy survived.

Sigh. I’ll be that won’t make the cover of Time magazine.


MadTV has done a lot of great stuff over the years, but this John Madden commercial is among the Top 10.

Today I’m listening to: SomaFM!