If you’ve been telling yourself that the one thing you need from English class is a collection of interesting articles to stimulate thought and provoke discussion, I’ve got you covered.

Every Monday morning, check-in at this link (also on the side of the page) for a collection of articles about the world we inhabit and the ideas that challenge us.


As pressures mount due the increasing extinction rate and declining resources, zoos are being forced to choose which species to save–and how to balance entertainment and conservation. In the New York Times, zoologist Robert Merz describes the stakes:

Mr. Merz says the effort was worthwhile because the beetle might play an irreplaceable role in the ecological web. He considers picking species worth saving akin to life-or-death gambling. “It is like looking out the window of an airplane and seeing the rivets in the wing,” he said. “You can probably lose a few, but you don’t know how many, and you really don’t want to find out.”

Psychologist David Myers sees this pattern of soaring wealth and shrinking spirit as “the American paradox.” He observes that at the beginning of the twenty-first century, Americans found themselves “with big houses and broken homes, high incomes and low morale, secured rights and diminished civility. We were excelling at making a living but too often failing at making a life. We celebrated our prosperity but yearned for purpose. We cherished our freedoms but longed for connection. In an age of plenty, we were feeling spiritual hunger. These facts of life lead us to a startling conclusion: Our becoming better off materially has not made us better off psychologically.”

–James Gustav Spaeth, The Bridge at the Edge of the World: Capitalism, the Environment, and Crossing from Crisis to Sustainability (2009)

In August, Foreign Policy analyst and blogger David Rothkopf compiled a list of 10 Events More Important Than 9/11 in the Past Decade. Hist list?


10. “The American response to 9/11 … [which] was both vastly bigger in scope and in consequence than the events that triggered it.”
9. “The ‘Arab Spring,’ … [It has] “toppled more governments in the region than either al-Qaida or the United States could.”
8. Asia’s “rebalancing … [which includes] the U.S. embrace of India.”
7. “The stagnation of the U.S. and other developed-world economies.”
6. “The invention of social media.”
5. “The proliferation of cell phones and hand-held computing devices.”
4. Wall Street’s “crash of 2008.”
3. “The Eurozone crisis and the crash of 2011-2012.”
2. A “failure to address global warming.”
1. “The rise of China and the other BRICs [Brazil, Russia, India and other emerging markets].”


I had never seen this picture until recently, but it’s certainly a fascinating example of photojournalism, depicting a group of young Americans seemingly relaxing and enjoying themselves in the sun while the World Trade Center burned on 9/11. The photo was so controversial that the photographer refused to publish it for five years after the event.

From the Guardian:


The critic and columnist Frank Rich wrote about it in the New York Times. He saw in this undeniably troubling picture an allegory of America’s failure to learn any deep lessons from that tragic day, to change or reform as a nation: “The young people in Mr Hoepker’s photo aren’t necessarily callous. They’re just American.”
In other words, a country that believes in moving on they have already moved on, enjoying the sun in spite of the scene of mass carnage that scars the fine day. Indeed, I can’t help thinking the five apparently unmoved New Yorkers resemble the characters in the famous 1990s television comedy Seinfeld, who in the show’s final episode are convicted under a Good Samaritan law of failing to care about others.
Rich’s view of the picture was instantly disputed. Walter Sipser, identifying himself as the guy in shades at the right of the picture, said he and his girlfriend, apparently sunbathing on a wall, were in fact “in a profound state of shock and disbelief”. Hoepker, they both complained, had photographed them without permission in a way that misrepresented their feelings and behaviour.