In the now-infamous climactic scene from the HBO documentary series The Jinx, the alleged triple murderer and confirmed creep Robert Durst mutters into a still-live mic that he “Killed them all, of course.” That line has justifiably received a lot of attention and will no doubt receive more when he eventually stands trial for the murder of his friend and apparent confidante, Susan Berman.
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I’m both a proud Irish American and a student of history. As a consequence, every March I find myself torn between a desire to carouse on St. Patrick’s Day or to raise awareness about the messages we send in the very act of carousing.
That is, if I celebrate on St. Pat’s, will I be promoting Irish stereotypes? Will I be a “Plastic Paddy”, too?
Looming mournfully over the mismatched medieval roofs of Prague is a red metronome. Some think of the metronome as the slow tick of growing democracy in the Czech Republic, as it was erected in 1991 after the fall of communism over the ruins of a giant monument of Stalin. Ironically, the metronome often lies still, as if the weight of Prague’s history has given it too much baggage to continue the heartbeat. This is a source of constant amusement to the pessimistic Czechs. The story of the red metronome in Prague is the building of a new future that can’t possibly escape the old.
While sitting in a cinema waiting for the start of Silvered Water, Syria Self-Portait, a film about the Syrian Civil War, two Austrian soldiers in camo uniforms sit next to me. This is not an ordinary thing to see in the cinema, but then, this is not an ordinary cinema. We are in a movie theater located in Europe’s youngest nation, Kosovo.
There are still more than 4,500 troops from around the world (739 from the United States) participating in a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) peace-support operation. Camp Bondsteel, the biggest US foreign military base built since the end of Vietnam War, is just about 40 miles from this cinema.
At the end of June, several news outlets ran the story that Facebook, the social networking giant which now commands about $2.91 billion in profits, ran a bizarre—and probably unethical—experiment on hundreds of thousands of its users back in 2012. According to reports, the company manipulated the newsfeed of 689,003 users with a view to provoking shifts in psychological and emotional dispositions.