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Captain Mojatba and his men are the “Afghan face” of efforts to stabilize the foundering Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, to secure the Afghan population, and to neutralize the Taliban threat to Kabul once and for all. At least that’s how the story is supposed to go.
Mojatba rolls his eyes, bored. “We’re not fighting the Taliban in Wardak,” he says. Cross-legged, propped against the rusted hulk of a jingle truck, he spoons globs of tagine d’agneau from a French ration de combat individuelle onto pieces of local flatbread, called naan. “We’re fighting criminals who use the name Taliban when they take money to go out and kill their own people.” His version supports everything I’ve heard from US troops and Afghans alike—except the part about killing “their own people.” In Wardak, coalition casualties have vastly outstripped Afghan casualties. –“The Path to Yaghestan,” Elliott D. Woods, Virginia Quarterly Review
Manos still claims MTV’s interest in Pop Life was real. The show is about a European trust-fund baby seeking to spread his wealth around, and make the world a better place while reveling in the city’s nightlife and shopping around a reality television show he’s hoping to produce. It’s a tangle of semi-scripted meta-reality, like MTV’s The Hills taken to a new dimension; a reality show based on the flamboyant alter ego he had invented to avoid capture, capitalizing on the make-believe de Medici back story. For the premiere of the Pop Life pilot on September 25, 2008, Manos staged a huge party at Mansion (now M2 Ultralounge): a fashion show, a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, and the last big event Manos planned before leaving New York. In a red-carpet interview outside the event (which Pop Life‘s cameras were also shooting for the show), Manos gushed about his show’s big message: “We are changing lives, we are having fun, we are being debaucherous.” Asked to describe the show, Manos offers, “My show Pop Life follows my life, which is inspired by real events, and you have to figure out what’s real and what’s not.” Then he looks directly at the camera, holding his gaze for a beat too long, as if daring the audience to separate the real in his life from the fake. “Is it live or is it Memorex, ladies and gentlemen?” –“Michael Manos was Living the Same Lie in Dallas that he Peddled Across the Country. Only Here, the Truth Caught Up with Him,” Patrick Michels, Dallas Observer
Robespierre, the moral arbiter of the French Revolution, coined the word “terrorism.” It is strange that the first person to use this word was a Frenchman and a revolutionary. It is also strange that a word that, in our times, conjures images of bomb-strapped, Allah-worshipping fundamentalists, was first used by the state against its own citizens. Robespierre felt the French needed the Terrorisme to buttress the tenuous revolutionary state against the counterrevolutionaries and aristocrats—both real and imagined—that he saw everywhere. Robespierre was the ruthless vegan straight-edger of his time—he didn’t hesitate to behead his friends to uphold the virtues of revolutionary purity. After the French Revolution had killed off all its real enemies, it went through an internal cleansing, trying to purify the stained, bourgeois revolution with the liberal use of the guillotine. Perhaps it is because the French Revolution was so heavy-handed with the judgmental moralism that the French have developed such an intransigent love of sinful bourgeois pleasures like red wine, beef tartare, and satin sheets. But at the same time, the French have an innate hatred of the police and authority. They love to see outlaws break the rules and get away with it. In 2009, an armored-truck driver named Toni Musulin became a French folk hero when he drove off with a cargo equal to $17 million in cash. Fan groups sprouted up on the web, and the entire country rooted for him and seemed disappointed when he was eventually tracked down and caught. –“Vive le Tarnac Nine!” Aaron Lake Smith, Vice
Clash of the tiny titans;
thank goodness they weren’t “open carrying”;
but remember, firearm fans, foreplay can be lethal
More from Rafe Bartholomew:
Chances that a deep breath inhaled today will contain a molecule from Julius Caesar’s dying breath:
Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences, by John Allen Paulos, Hill and Wang (N.Y.C.)
The earth once had three moons; the two lost moons may have crashed into the surviving moon, or been sucked into the sun, or flung out of the solar system to drift through deep space.
In Florida, an 87-year-old World War II veteran flying touch-and-go drills in a Cessna collided with an airborne skydiver. “There was a ‘woof’ sound,” said a witness, “like falling on your face into your pillow.”
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“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds.”