Archive

Isaac Scarborough

9 September 2010

The disconnect in Russia between language and reality can at times become disturbing. It isn’t just the standard “double-talk” of politicians, a screen of incomprehensible loan-words and convoluted syntax. It’s worse: a feeling that the basic descriptions of reality don’t correspond to their objects. Subway escalators that were working five minutes ago are arbitrarily declared “broken”; stores take random and unpredictable “technical breaks,” even if the technicality is a cigarette. More…

31 May 2009

November in Astana—Kazakhstan’s new marble and glass capital in the middle of the empty steppe—is blisteringly cold, and distractions from the harsh wind that whips across the desolate landscape are welcome. Standing outside of the airport one evening, I shared a beer and cigarette with a young man from the south of Kazakhstan, on the lengthy way to Moscow. More…

11 May 2009

I didn’t join the Peace Corps to “save the world,” and I had few pretensions of engaging in major community-changing development. I did expect to work toward the long-term development of school #2’s educational program—this seemed to be ingrained in Peace Corps Turkmenistan’s goals for its TOEFL program. More…

6 February 2006

Walking out of Grand Central Station, New Yorkers pass a Hyatt and a Kenneth Cole. The Hyatt is full of tourists. The Kenneth Cole storefront declares, “You’re on a video camera over twenty times a day. Are you dressed for it?” We’d better be. Those creepy-eyed, ceiling-mounted black domes are ubiquitous in drug stores, retail outlets, and everywhere else. More…

23 August 2005

Accusing one’s political enemies of lying is certainly an old tactic, and often enough an effective one. But as an explanation for the Republicans’ recent success it falls short of complete. Sure, the Republicans are lying—but this line of argument forgets about voters and discounts their reasons for voting. More…

13 May 2005

Of the major conflicts of the past decade and a half, Michael Walzer’s declarations are unsurprising. The first Gulf War: just. The intervention in Kosovo: just. The war against the Taliban: just, but maybe inadvertently so. The current war in Iraq: unjust. More…