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Teacher motivation - Russian-style

By Asides and Current Events

You may ooze bile but you will teach the chil­dren by those books that you will be giv­en and in the way that is needed by Russia. And as to the noble non­sense that you carry in your mis­shapen goat­eed heads, either it will be vent­il­ated out of them or you your­self will be vent­il­ated out of teach­ing.… It is impossible to let some Russophobe shit-stinker (govny­uk), or just any amor­al type, teach Russian his­tory. It is neces­sary to clear the filth, and if it does not work, then clear it by force.

Pavel Danilin, editor-in-chief of and con­trib­ut­or of a chapter to the new, officially-sanctioned, his­tory of Russia high school textbook.

[via The New Republic]

By Asides, Current Events and Literature

Screenwriter Ronan Bennett cri­ti­cises Martin Amis for his ques­tion­able pos­i­tion­ing on present day inter-cultural rela­tions (and oth­er com­ment­at­ors for essen­tially giv­ing him a free pass):

As a nov­el­ist, Amis is free to do whatever he wants with his char­ac­ters, but the hijack­ers’ steps on the road to 9/11 repay invest­ig­a­tion. Reducing the motiv­a­tion of the enemy to blood­lust leads nowhere, as the exper­i­ence of the British in Ireland proved. The res­ult will be wrong and it will be cliché. It may be, giv­en Amis’s spec­tac­u­lar powers, flam­boy­ant, but that will only make it flam­boy­ant cliché. Horrorism. Death cult. Thanatoid. Striking words but poor sub­sti­tutes for under­stand­ing, reas­on and real knowledge.

I am a big fan of Amis’ writ­ing but I con­fess to being uncom­fort­able with some of the pos­i­tions he is tak­ing at the moment.

By Asides and Current Events

Of course it’s about oil (Jim Holt in the London Review of Books):

It has been estim­ated, by the Council on Foreign Relations, that Iraq may have a fur­ther 220 bil­lion bar­rels of undis­covered oil; anoth­er study puts the fig­ure at 300 bil­lion. If these estim­ates are any­where close to the mark, US forces are now sit­ting on one quarter of the world’s oil resources. The value of Iraqi oil, largely light crude with low pro­duc­tion costs, would be of the order of $30 tril­lion at today’s prices. For pur­poses of com­par­is­on, the pro­jec­ted total cost of the US invasion/occupation is around $1 trillion.

By Asides and Current Events

The Great Iraq Swindle: How Bush Allowed an Army of For-Profit Contractors to Invade the U.S. Treasury (from Rolling Stone)

In a much-ballyhooed example of favor­it­ism, the White House ori­gin­ally installed a clown named Jim O’Beirne at the rel­ev­ant eval­u­ation desk in the Department of Defense. O’Beirne proved to be a clas­sic Bush vil­lain, a mor­on’s mor­on who judged applic­ants not on their Arabic skills or their rel­ev­ant expert­ise but on their Republican bona fides; he sent a twenty-four-year-old who had nev­er worked in fin­ance to man­age the reopen­ing of the Iraqi stock exchange, and appoin­ted a recent gradu­ate of an evan­gel­ic­al uni­ver­sity for home-schooled kids who had no account­ing exper­i­ence to man­age Iraq’s $13 bil­lion budget. James K. Haveman, who had served as Michigan’s community-health dir­ect­or under a GOP gov­ernor, was put in charge of rehab­il­it­at­ing Iraq’s health-care sys­tem and decided that what this war-ravaged, mal­nour­ished, sanitation-deficient coun­try most urgently needed was … an anti-smoking campaign.