Risky Business: The Role of Arms Sales in U.S. Foreign Policy

This paper from the Cato Institute is worth the time it demands of readers. Regardless of how you feel about the Cato Institute, this lede is objectively gripping:

“U.S. arms sales policy is out of control. Since 2002, the United States has sold more than $197 billion worth of major conventional weapons and related military support to 167 countries. In just his first year in office, President Donald Trump inked arms deals at a record pace, generating hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of potential sales.”

You can download the full piece here.

Play

Nobody captures the dystopian scènes à faire like the Irish, and Samuel Beckett is one of the best. Beckett is probably most well known for Waiting for Godot, but the collaboration between Raidió Teilifís Éireann, Channel 4, and the Irish Film Board adapting several of Beckett’s shorts as films first aired in 2001. The project, Beckett on Film, was prohibitively expensive for even the wealthiest of our members, but a well written request to a library in North-Central Florida put the entire series at our fingertips. Until recently, however, our favorite shorts were not available online.

Play, set in the barren landscape of Beckett’s devastatingly rendered purgatory, witnesses the three corners of a love triangle repeating their stories as quickly as possible to satiate a spotlight that fixates on each of them in turn. This adaption is faithful to Beckett’s stage directions, repeating itself so quickly that a casual observer might not recognize the eternal loop implied by the characters’ repetition.

The late Alan Rickman is at his finest delivering some of Beckett’s more memorable lines such as, “adulterers take warning, never admit,” and “she had a razor in her vanity bag.” Nearly every line in this dense piece is worth digesting. Beckett rewards multiple readings, and this adaptation rewards multiple viewings.

Rabbits – Podcast

We are looking forward to the imminent release of Ready Player One, but we doubt anything can match the alternate reality game (ARG) that accompanied Ernest Cline’s DeLorean fueled book tour. The 2017 podcast Rabbits from the Public Radio Alliance focuses on one woman’s gradual investigation of an ARG. We desperately wanted the podcast to lead to another ARG, but, to our knowledge, no one has found a rabbit hole.

While listeners have analyzed the podcast for hidden clues in the background, the closest thing to a bread crumb anyone has found is a website for the in-universe Gatewick Institute. We sent an email to the contact listed on the website and received a cute, automated response reading:

“We are now tracking your participation. We will be in touch shortly.”

It is a cute marketing effort, but none of our members are yet playing Rabbits. We are still on the lookout for wardens.

Infinity Chamber

Christopher Soren Kelly gives a strong performance, but Infinity Chamber always feels one step away from brilliant.

Travis Milloy’s film centers on Frank, played by Kelly, who wakes up in a prison cell monitored and looked after by a computer. Although the plot is another of the time-loop/questionable-reality genre, of which Stanislaw Lem’s The Futurological Congress is one of our favorite examples, Infinity Chamber feels original. The film never quite lives up to the expectations set during its first thirty minutes, but it allows for two interesting interpretations without being cryptic or heavy-handed. It pairs well with this brief essay from the Boston Review, Philip K. Dick and the Fake Humans.