Slow Learning and Other Links

Environment and Disaster

George Dvorsky, “A Dramatic 260 Foot Crater Has Mysteriously Appeared in Siberia.”

giant siberian crater

National Security State

Sue Halpern, “NSA Surveillance: What the Government Can’t See.”

Tom Engelhardt, “The New American Exceptionalism: An Imperial State Unable to Impose Its Will.” (This only shares a title with Donald E. Pease‘s excellent book of the same name, The New American Exceptionalism.)

H. Bruce Franklin, “America’s Memory of the Vietnam War in the Epoch of the Forever War.”

Jeffrey Frank, “Obama’s Unwritten History.”

Xeni Jardin, “NSA Sees Your Nude Pix ‘as Fringe Benefits of Surveillance Positions,’ Says Snowden.”

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Alternate Nuclear History: Manhattan Projects

I’ve picked up the first three issues of The Manhattan Projects, written by Jonathan Hickman and drawn by Nick Pitarra, and I am finding it absolutely delightful. The premise is pure alternate nuclear history joy: “What if the research and development department created to produce the first atomic bomb was a front for a series of other, more unusual, programs? What if the union of a generation’s brightest minds was not a signal for optimism, but foreboding? What if everything . . . went wrong?” (from the cover). Already in the first three issues, a insane Robert Oppenheimer suffers from multiple personality disorder, and gets to mow down killer Japanese samurai robots

Wernher von Braun has a robotic arm, Richard Feynman is a narcissistic pretty boy, Harry Daghlian is an irradiated skull, F.D.R. becomes the world’s first artificial intelligence (“We have nothing to fear but. . . ourselves” are his first posthuman words), and, as Chris Sims has pointed out in an early review, “Albert Einstein is The Manhattan Projects’ Wolverine. . . . Seriously: Einstein is the sensational character find of 2012.” (Wired also has a review and an interview with Hickman here.) And perhaps the least compelling aspect of the book so far is the end of its third issue, which reimagines Hiroshima in a darkly humorous fashion. I’m really looking forward to continue reading this.