Rebutting the Web

Month: November, 2012

Greece’s Far-Right Party Goes on the Offensive

Greece’s Far-Right Party Goes on the Offensive by Dina Kyriakidou at Reuters

After Auschwitz, Goebbels, and Mussolini, the Western world vowed to never let such a tragic era of human history repeat itself. But just as Hitler rose to power in the wreckage of Germany’s economic crisis, a new fascist threat lurks in Greece: Golden Dawn.

The overtly fascist party–its members regularly rough up, and in some cases kill, immigrants just because they are not ethnically Greek–received a mere 0.29% of the vote in 2009. Only three years later in the unrelenting Greek crisis, polls have shown that 10.4% of Greeks now support the party. The Panhellenic Socialist Movement, or PASOK, maintained majority control of the Greek parliament in 2009 as it received 43.9% of the vote. In the same poll that has Golden Dawn at 10.4%, PASOK commands a mere 7.5% of the vote. The Coalition of the Radical Left, or Syriza, whose members include Maoists and Trotskyists, have also seen a meteoric rise during Greece’s economic crisis.

Such turbulence demonstrates the incredible fluidity of Greek politics, the desperation of Greeks, and their desire for a radical solution to their problems (both parties are robustly opposed to further bailouts).

Greek politicians and leaders, like nearly all of their counterparts in the world, have been woefully unreceptive to the demands and concerns of their people. Golden Dawn, in a move of political genius, is exploiting these anxieties: average Greeks are repulsed by further bailouts and austerity–Golden Dawn’s opposition to them only strengthens; the Greek state is unable to fulfill many social services–Golden Dawn will now take care of them.

With rising popularity, the abject fascism  of Golden Dawn may soon arrive in Greece. The ultimate tragicomedy is being written: western democracy will die in its birthplace.

Rebuttal (from Reddit): 




Summly Founder Nick D’Aloisio’s Immodest Goal: Change The Way You Read News

17-Year-Old Summly Founder Nick D’Aloisio’s Immodest Goal: Change The Way You Read News by Dino Grandoni at The Huffington Post

As the years have passed through the early stages of the Internet Age, our attention spans have gotten shorter. Nowhere is this more obvious than Twitter. Conciseness is a wonderful thing, but forming your thoughts around a 140 character barrier is a whole other story. Nick D’Alosio sought to capitalize off of this by developing a “genetic algorithm” that summarizes news stories into 400 characters or less. Information is no longer being lost in translation, but in brevity.



A Two-State Solution Is the Most Practical Route for Israel and Palestine

A Two-State Solution Is the Most Practical Route for Israel and Palestine by David Wearing at The Guardian

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been and will continue to be one of the most enduring political debacles in modern history. One chapter in this never-ending story can safely be closed, however: the one-state solution is forever dead. Demographics, which overwhelmingly favor the Palestinians, would make Jewish rule of a single state unviable–hence Israel’s opposition. And it is Israel, not the Palestinians, that has the upper hand in this debate. A situation must be found if Israel and Palestine wish to avoid a chaotic and even bloodier end to this mess. With the two-state solution now considered the most viable, is Israel prepared to hand over control to the Palestinians?




The Island Where People Forget to Die

The Island Where People Forget to Die by Dan Buettner at The New York Times

Ikaria, Greece is named after Icarus–a Greek mythological figure who died tragically young after flying too close to the sun. The tale is a classic story in the dangers of not listening to one’s elders. Oddly enough, Ikaria boasts one of the oldest populations of people in the world. Heeding the cautionary tale of Icarus, what about longevity can be learned from the island’s many centenarians?  Quite a lot: not just the diet, not just the many hills that must be climbed daily, and not just the many hours of sleep each Ikarian gets each night. Rather, it is the community as a whole, and the reinforcing impact this has on everyone’s behavior.




Broken BRICS

Broken BRICS by Ruchir Sharma at Foreign Affairs

“The West versus the Rest” is a phrase which has become quite popular over the last several years. The global recession hit the US, Japan and Western Europe quite hard. These three economic powerhouses are still reeling to this day, and face new prospects of contraction. While the West limped along, the BRICS–Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa–and many other emerging market economies sprinted ahead. As predictions of American decline gain more and more traction, the battle between the West and the Rest seems more important than ever. Sharma argues, however, “The notion of wide-ranging convergence between the developing and the developed worlds is a myth.” One only need be a cursory student of history to know that the capitals of global dominance endlessly change places.


Did Facebook Censor an Anti-Obama Meme?

Did Facebook Censor an Anti-Obama Meme? by William Oremus at Slate

A controversial meme taking criticizing President Obama for his response to the Benghazi debacle went viral on Facebook this week. The meme was taken down and the creator’s account was suspended. Facebook has since apologized for the incident citing human error. Some find this explanation ridiculous when considering the elaborate steps taken to censor the meme and the creator’s account. Others find the explanation of human error plausible due to the sheer number of complaints Facebook receives each week. More important than the reason for the meme’s censoring, this issue highlights the debate over the rights of private companies to censor speech.



Facing Backlash, Minnesota Decides to Allow Free Online Courses After All

Facing Backlash, Minnesota Decides to Allow Free Online Courses After All by Katherine Mangan at The Chronicle of Higher Education

Many are praising the rise of free and discounted college courses being offered online. They are seen as one of the next leaps in higher education, although they do have their pitfalls: lack of interaction with a professor, dearth of transferrable credit, etc. But do these caveats justify their banishment? Minnesota officials, while softening their opposition, are still not so sure.



My 6,128 Favorite Books

My 6,128 Favorite Books by Joe Queenan at The Wall Street Journal

A self-proclaimed bookworm chronicles his love of books from a “harmless juvenile pastime…into a lifelong personality disorder.” Queenan, like many other avid readers, has a method to his madness–and he will not let the nagging suggestions of others influence his taste in literature. He also plans on resisting the digitalization of books one hardback at a time.