Caught in Conflict: An American in Israel

Hovering high over north Tel Aviv, fading puffs of smoke from an intercepted rocket from Gaza

The past four days Tel Aviv has been targeted with rockets fired from the Gaza Strip. They travel 40 miles up the Mediterranean coast of Israel before reaching the city. It’s a routine. The missiles are fired between the busy commuting hours of 8 and 9 am to cause maximum disruption to Israeli society. The early warning sirens go off with a modulating wail, giving people one a minute and a half to find cover in a stairwell or one of the city’s hundreds of bomb shelters, which the government ordered opened a few days ago. As the rocket approaches the city, an interceptor missile is fired at the rocket from Israel’s Iron Dome system to detonate it in mid-air.

The first day everyone in my dormitory at Tel Aviv University ran to the shelter and stayed there for the recommended 10 minutes. When we heard the two booms—first the Israeli Iron Dome interceptor missile and then the Gaza rocket—we looked at each other uneasily. The second day everybody walked to the shelter, waited for the booms, and left. The third day I just didn’t manage to get myself out of bed so early. The fourth day I was already awake but in the shower when the siren went off, so I simply closed myself in a windowless bathroom, my heart racing a little, and awaited the expected thud. Instead a series of loud booms shook the building. I looked out my kitchen window minutes later and took the above picture. High over Tel Aviv two wisps of smoke linger, presumably from an interceptor rocket.


Girls: Hannah’s Dead Inside – S3 E4

Hannah realizes she’s “Dead Inside.”


Girls: Hannah’s New Expression – S3 E3

A now twenty-five-year-old Hannah begins to realize her own immaturity.


Girls: Season 3 Premiere Reviewed – E1&2


HBO’s Girls and the Good Life: Anticipating Season 3

Girls is an excellent starting point for discussion of many live issues, but especially two tropes synonymous in almost all other television shows: sex and happiness. Inspired by several philosophers, but especially Michel Foucault, I have come to see Girls as one of the rare places where sex and happiness, often represented as inseparable—what everyone wants as part of the American Dream—are instead divorced and perpetually put into question…


Why Are the Humanities Hurting?

A slew of opinions regarding the future of the humanities have surfaced in recent weeks after a major report on the humanities called out its dire underfunding and the Wall Street Journal reported that that humanities degrees have dropped from 14% of total college degrees in 1966 to 7% in 2010. At Harvard University in particular, long considered a bastion of a liberal arts education, has waned from 36% of total majors in 1954 to 20% in 2012 [1]. They also reported that 9.5-9.8% unemployment rates for humanities majors, compared to 5.8% for chemistry majors and 5% for elementary education majors.


The Case Against Fairness: Why Favoritism, Not Fairness, Should be The Ethical Standard for The 21st Century

Imagine that a father said to you, “I would strangle everyone in this room if it somehow prolonged my son’s life.” You might be immediately repulsed and understandably doubt his capacity as a father. But bear with me. After a minute of reflection, you might think, “well, perhaps he’s just ignorant. Or perhaps very selfish. Maybe I could understand where he’s coming from, even if I think he’s wrong.” After some time to reconsider, the father only intensifies his earlier claim: “I realized that I meant it—I would choke them all.” Now imagine that that father is a philosopher who justifies that action using ideas from some of the greatest minds in the Western canon and got his argument published in a prestigious peer-reviewed university press.

In his recent book Against Fairness, Columbia College Chicago professor of philosophy Stephen T. Asma is just that philosopher-father and makes just this case for favoritism. He contends that all of the wishy-washy, kumbaya lessons we learned in kindergarten about the Golden Rule and only bringing treats if there’s enough for everyone are antithetical to the way human life was meant to be lived. According to Asma, we as a species have been making a category error for most of our existence by looking for the answers of how to live in abstract principles from ethical philosophy and religion when we should have been listening to our instincts for favoritism.


“The Closing of the American Mind” Reconsidered After 25 Years

In 1987, philosopher Allan Bloom authored his presumptuously titled book, “The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today’s Students.” After 25 years in press, this influential work deserves reconsideration.

Initially written as a reflection on Bloom’s own academic career in the University of Chicago’s prestigious Committee on Social Thought, the book was not expected to be a game changer. But, after being reviewed by several important critics, it was widely read in and outside of academia, selling close to half a million copies in hardback and remaining at number one on the New York Times Non-fiction Best Seller list for four months. On account of its popularity and highly influential message, one critic has called Closing “the first shot in the culture wars” that still rage on between liberal and conservative critics and academics.


Dapper Disputes: What the %$#! Happened to Comics?

Dapper Disputes is a feature where editors at The Airspace debate the merits and purpose of relevant issues in culture, technology, and scholarship.

From May 18-20, 2012, all eyes were on Chicago, and not just watching NATO protestors. The conference Comics: Philosophy & Practice brought together seventeen of the world’s most famous cartoonists for three days of lectures and panel discussions on the future of the genre. The event, which took place at the University of Chicago’s new Logan Center for the Arts, was called “historic” by the Chicago Tribune and drew an international audience [1]. By hosting cross-disciplinary dialogue between figures like the “grandfather of comics,” Art Spiegelman, and up-and-coming underground comic artists, this conference was to comics what Woodstock ’69 was to rock. Editors Blake J. Graham and Jon Catlin watched the conference via webcast and share their thoughts on the conference below.


Batman Decoded: Perspectives on The Dark Knight Rises

With The Dark Knight Rises, director Christopher Nolan completed the epic triptych he began with Batman Begins (2005) and The Dark Knight (2008). An experienced filmmaker before these films clapped on more awards, Nolan explained his choice to take up the stagnated Batman series: “Superheroes fill a gap in the pop culture psyche, similar to the role of Greek mythology. There isn’t really anything else that does the job in modern terms. For me, Batman is the one that can most clearly be taken seriously” [1].

We too are strong Batman exclusivists and think Nolan’s films bring to life the hero’s mythic potential in important ways. In this article, Airspace editors analyze and critique Christopher Nolan’s latest film from the perspectives of social justice, psychology, and cinematography.

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