As a veteran war correspondent, Chris Hedges has survived ambushes in Central America, imprisonment in Sudan, and a beating by Saudi military police. He has seen children murdered for sport in Gaza and petty thugs elevated into war heroes in the Balkans. Hedges, who is also a former divinity student, has seen war at its worst and knows too well that to those who pass through it, war can be exhilarating and even addictive: “It gives us purpose, meaning, a reason for living.”
Drawing on his own experience and on the literature of combat from Homer to Michael Herr, Hedges shows how war seduces not just those on the front lines but entire societies, corrupting politics, destroying culture, and perverting the most basic human desires. Mixing hard-nosed realism with profound moral and philosophical insight, War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning is a work of terrible power and redemptive clarity whose truths have never been more necessary.
He strings the horrors that he’s seen into beautiful passages in a way that needs to be read to fully appreciate. He uses a lot of his own experiences as well as major works of literature to showcase war as a drug, how it destroys more than just the land. The writing style is beautiful and the content is both informative and interesting. Really glad I read it.
This is a story about madness. It all starts when journalist Jon Ronson is contacted by a leading neurologist. She and several colleagues have recently received a cryptically puzzling book in the mail, and Jon is challenged to solve the mystery behind it. As he searches for the answer, Jon soon finds himself, unexpectedly, on an utterly compelling and often unbelievable adventure into the world of madness. Jon meets a Broadmoor inmate who swears he faked a mental disorder to get a lighter sentence but is now stuck there, with nobody believing he’s sane. He meets some of the people who catalogue mental illness, and those who vehemently oppose them. He meets the influential psychologist who developed the industry standard Psychopath Test and who is convinced that many important CEOs and politicians are in fact psychopaths. Jon learns from him how to ferret out these high-flying psychopaths and, armed with his new psychopath-spotting abilities, heads into the corridors of power.
This book was really interesting! I tend to flip between thinking that psychiatry over-diagnoses and thinking that they’re horrifyingly correct. This was a cool exploration of psychopathy and how it’s possible that many people at the top are, in fact, psychopaths. This is something I might have to agree with, which is largely why I bought the book.
After research was done with a few hundred top CEO’s and politicians, Robert Hare found that they’re 4 times more likely to be psychopaths than the general public. Now, granted, just under 1% of the general public can be classified as psychopaths so that’s about 4% of top personalities, but it still seems a huge deal.
I do like that Ronson also talked about how psychiatry could be overstepping its bounds. He talked about the problems with over-labeling people, and how children are being wrongfully diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
‘In 2007, Yassin Nassari, the president of the University of Westminster Harrow Campus ISOC was arrested at Luton airport, when security staff found blueprints for military rockets in his luggage.’ Two years ago, the Global Ideas Society invited Jamal Harwood, a member of Hizb ut Tahrir‘s Executive Committee, to speak in an event. Just before this event took place, the university cancelled it, stating that it would, indeed, adopt the NUS No Platform Policy. This policy literally allows no platform to be given to extremist groups such as Hizb ut Tahrir and the BNP. Universities can choose whether to adopt this policy or not.
The University of Westminster made headlines last year for electing two alleged members of Hizb ut Tahrir as President and VP Education. Although an investigation was supposed to have taken place, I am dubious to whether it was. In the same year, the Global Ideas Society held yet another event giving platform to a Hizb ut Tahrir member.
Now this year the Global Ideas Society has yet again attempted an event featuring Jamal Harwood. On the day of the event, it was cancelled, with the Students’ Union releasing this statement:
Several students, a lecturer and Peter Tatchell, according to the University, who opposed the appearance of a Hizb ut Tahrir member, posed a violent threat to the event. They had planned to disrupt the event, though all were unsure whether it would escalate to violence or not. The University was unable to ensure the safety of both speakers and attendees; therefore the university decided to cancel the event.
I was personally involved in raising awareness with Student Rights and speaking to them about what should be done about it. During my correspondences I never heard of people planning on violence in protest to this event. I knew of people who were planning on attending to ask questions to trip up Harwood, but that was the extent of the ‘threat’. Unless by violent they meant anyone who disagreed with Harwood.
I was intrigued by their allegations that Peter Tatchell was involved in this apparent ‘violent threat to the event’. Peter Tatchell is a long time political campaigner who is particularly interested in LGBT rights. He has peacefully protested extremism in the past, though also has a record of condemning Islamophobia. Naturally, under such allegations, I decided to email him in hopes he would respond. A few hours later, he emailed me back. This is an excerpt of his response (emphasis my own):
It’s all lies.I had no knowledge of this event at all. I did not seek its cancellation or threaten to disrupt it. If I had known about the Hizb ut-Tahrir speaker, I would have protested peacefully against him (as I have done in the past). I have a long history of non-violent direct action. I have never in my 45 years of human rights campaigning committed any violent acts, even when violently assaulted myself.
In 1994, I was subjected to death threats from members of Hizb ut-Tahrir. They explicitly threatened to track me down and kill me.
Obviously, someone is lying. Considering Mr. Tatchell has been campaigning for 45 years and has a good reputation among honest people, I’m going to side with Peter.
I am a student at the University of Westminster. I am disgusted by the obvious scapegoating going on in my Students’ Union; this ‘union’ is meant to represent everyone, not scandalise innocent people. I am passionately against Islamophobia, and any sort of discrimination, but I am also against extremists targeting others in their strings of lies. I did not want to jump to conclusions about the status of my university. I love what I’m learning; my department is amazing. The Students’ Union, however, has been infiltrated by lying extremists. That much is clear.
So I’ve finally finished the Harry Potter series! I guess it’s a bit sad to say that I’m really glad it’s over. I’m glad that I can move on to other books I really love this book though. I’m glad I can finally relate to HP fans in full, because in general I have to talk with a disclaimer of having only seen the films.
I don’t know, I feel like there isn’t much to say in any of these. The last three films are my favourite films and therefore the last two books are my favourite.
Last week PETA released yet another ridiculously disgusting ad. Trigger warning for aftermath of violence.
The beginning narration goes as follows:
“This is Jessica. She suffers from BWVAKTBOOM . Boyfriend Went Vegan, And Knocked The Bottom Out Of Me. A painful condition that occurs when boyfriends go vegan and can suddenly bring it like a tantric porn star.”
Let’s not forget the countless times PETA has objectified women and shamed fat people. Now they think it’s perfectly okay to depict a girl that was fucked so hard she is in visible pain, can barely walk properly and has a neck brace.
Yes, the actress looks happy in the end but this erases the painful reality of rape and domestic violence. There are some women who DO have to go back home to their abuser, who have to look happy to be there, lest they be beaten more. There are women who do get hurt so badly by someone that they need to wear a neck brace, that they can barely walk.
This reminds me of the scene in Twilight Breaking Dawn (thinking of the book here), where Bella wakes up covered in bruises and barely remembering anything from the night before because she was pretty much knocked out by the force. It was romanticised there too, yet it sends a message to women that it’s acceptable, and expected, that a man will hurt you out of ‘passion’.
If PETA wants to market veganism to men, why not do it in a way that actually looks fun for everyone, instead of glamourising violence?