Is cosmology just a parlor game, in which our only choice is to take a leap of faith?
Jonathan Moreno, a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania:
Scientists often fail to foresee where their research is headed.
Even visionaries can misread their customers when they are blinded by their past success.
Nobody knows what anyone's building until it's built.
Largely prohibited from venturing outside their compounds, many American officials exhibit little knowledge of events beyond the barricades. They often appear to occupy themselves with irrelevant activities such as filling out paperwork and writing cables to their superiors in the United States. Some of them send tweets -- in English, in a largely illiterate country, with limited Internet usage. "Captain America ran the half marathon," a recent Embassy tweet said, referring to a sporting event that took place within the Embassy's protected area. In the early years of the war, diplomats were encouraged to leave their compounds and meet ordinary Afghans. In recent years, personal safety has come to overshadow all other concerns.
It may be that American officers, after eleven years of doing almost everything themselves, have created such a sense of dependency in the Afghan government and military that they must now see if their charges will stand on their own. And maybe they will. But the American strategy appears to be an enormous gamble, propelled by a sense of political and economic fatigue.
There was an irony of sorts shaping the dynamic between our yellow ribbon decal supporters and us. They were uninformed but good people, the kind whose respect we would welcome -- if it were based upon something true. It was when we were around them that we had to hide the actual truth most consciously.
When Geoff Millard told his mother he wanted to be a Marine, she pleaded with him to consider the National Guard. He agreed to meet with the Guard recruiter, whose pitch was effective and simple: "If you come here, you get to blow shit up."
"I was just like, oh, I get to blow up stuff! I signed up right then and there on the spot. But the interesting thing he didn't tell me was that the 'shit' that he referred to would be kids."
War is about barbarity, perversion, and pain. Human decency and tenderness are crushed, and people become objects to use or kill. The noise, the stench, the fear, the scenes of eviscerated bodies and bloated corpses, the cries of the wounded all combine to spin those in combat into another universe. In this moral void, naively blessed by secular and religious institutions at home, the hypocrisy of our social conventions, our strict adherence to moral precepts, becomes stark. War, for all its horror, has the power to strip away the trivial and the banal, the empty chatter and foolish obsessions that fill our days. It might let us see, although the cost is tremendous.