Afternoon Links

Starting off with 16 movie posters improved by sloths.

The replacement of the traditional The Great Gatsby book cover with the Leo DiCaprio-central movie book cover has started a fight. As it should.

Why does Anne Boleyn obsess us?

Just as some portraits say more about the artist than the subject, so do representations of Anne speak volumes about different historical moments. “Anne Boleyn” is a “skanky schemer” today and “unsung hero of the Protestant Reformation,” to the Elizabethans; a Romantic heroine one decade and a Victorian cautionary tale the next; in the 1950s she was a typical teenager, admiring her figure in the looking-glass; by the 2000s she’s a Mean Girl, stealing her sister’s boyfriend. Most recently, post-Showtime series The Tudors, she’s a feminist icon, “too smart, sexy, and strong for her own time, unfairly vilified for her defiance of sixteenth-century norms of wifely obedience”….Anne has been as magnetic to posterity as she was to her contemporaries. Her story has been told countless times since her death, in histories, plays, operas, novels, films, television series, etc. Certain elements have seemed unimpeachably true for one generation, only to be revised and reversed by the next. Susan Bordo’s delightfully cheeky, solidly-researched The Creation of Anne Boleyn: A New Look at England’s Most Notorious Queen aims to investigate “the erasure of Anne Boleyn and the creation of ‘Anne Boleyn.” Bordo, a well-known scholar of cultural studies, uses her good sense and academic training to shrewdly chip away at historical commentary, which has hardened speculation into supposed “facts.” The result is a sensible look at the way Anne’s image has been manipulated and shaped by different agendas and historical periods over the centuries.

The UN group for “Combating Terror Finance” is going to convene in Sudan, state sponsor of terror. It’s become so typical that now I usually just laugh instead of groan.

Last week’s Bush Library opening was lovely and the contrast between the presidents was apparent. I miss having a classy, down-to-earth president who was humbled by the office and awed by its history.

A soldier reflects on the good we did in Iraq.

Before Sabre Squadron arrived in our part of Diyala, it was so deeply in the control of al-Qaeda that they named that part of the world the “Islamic Caliphate of Iraq.” They implemented the most draconian form of sharia law imaginable, they placed bombs in children’s backpacks to kill their enemies, they sawed the heads off of women and children (shrieking “Allahu Akhbar!” the entire time), and they filmed the killings for posterity. They shot infants in the face, then killed the mothers as they cradled the remains of their children, they raped, they plundered, and they blew up restaurants and killed first responders. In short, al-Qaeda was savage beyond the comprehension of Americans. And we beat them. By the time we left, bombings were few and far between. Markets were open, the rhythms of daily life had returned, and we were driving and walking over ground that we once could only fly over. One of the reasons so many Iraq vets remain proud of our service, and are often resentful of the crowing of the war’s opponents, is that we know the extent of the horror of both Saddam’s tyranny and the tyranny of those who tried to replace Saddam. We have no illusions about our nation’s mistakes and tactical failures, but we actually met the enemy and know that its defeat was an unmitigated good.

An Iraqi journalist emphasizes why stopping Saddam was a noble thing to do and wants America to stop feeling guilty about the war.

There was not, and will never be, anything wrong with toppling a dictator, let alone one as bloody as Saddam….The continuing violence in Iraq, even after the U.S. withdrawal, is proof that not all of the Iraqi rage was because of American occupation. Self-criticism is good, and there are lessons to be learned from American mistakes in Iraq—whether the error was abandoning the Kurds and the Shia in 1991, or not planning for lawlessness in 2003. Nonetheless, America handed back to Iraqis a country that, by the standards of the Arabic-speaking Middle Eastern, is closest in the region to being a normal one. Americans paid dearly for that, not only in lives lost, and money spent, but also because of a bruising debate that divided Americans and made them lose faith in their country’s power and role on the world stage. Now it’s time for Americans to stop feeling guilty about Iraq. The United States went to war in good will and wanted to spread democracy. But the Iraqis were not, and are still not, ready for democratic government. The fact that the whole Middle East has devolved into a Sunni-Shia war tells us that the chaos in Iraq that followed the U.S. invasion was only a small reflection of the problems in a region that was on fire long before 2003. We should also recognize that the United States still has a large role in influencing events in its interests, and shaping them according to its ideals.

Literary figures with the weirdest obsessions. D.H. Lawrence enjoyed climbing mulberry trees while nude. Well, who doesn’t? Immanuel Kant required an assistant to get out of bed in the morning because he couldn’t sleep unless “comprehensively mummified in blankets.” Check out more at the link.

A look at the environmental and political crisis in Ethiopia.

A store pulls peanuts off the shelves because the packaging failed to warn that the product may contain peanuts. If you didn’t realize that was the case, KILL YOURSELF.

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Filed under Around the World, History, Politics, TV/Movies, Uncategorized

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