10.07.2014

Recommended Articles

A few articles that have caught my eye recently, two longer articles with a little more color on ISIS and the conservation efforts in Patagonia and a shorter one by the always charming Jim Hamblin. Have you read anything interesting lately?

Recommended Articles

1. Filkins, Dexter. "ISIS vs. the Kurds." The New Yorker 2014 Sept. 29
The incursion of ISIS presents the Kurds with both opportunity and risk. In June, the ISIS army swept out of the Syrian desert and into Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. As the Islamist forces took control, Iraqi Army soldiers fled, setting off a military collapse through the region. The Kurds, taking advantage of the chaos, seized huge tracts of territory that had been claimed by both Kurdistan and the government in Baghdad. With the newly acquired land, the political climate for independence seemed promising. The region was also finding new economic strength; vast reserves of oil have been discovered there in the past decade. In July, President Barzani asked the Kurdish parliament to begin preparations for a vote on self-rule. “The time has come to decide our fate, and we should not wait for other people to decide it for us,” Barzani said.
2. Hamblin, James. "Always Make Promises." The Atlantic 2014 Aug. 27
Imagine you're a kid with a cookie and a friend who has no cookie. What happens if you eat it all? Your friend will be upset. What happens if you give all of it away? Your friend will like you a lot. What if you give away half the cookie? Your friend will be just about as happy with you as if you gave him the whole thing. His satisfaction is a pretty flat line if you give anything more than half of the cookie. People judge actions that are on the selfish side of fairness. Maybe because we denigrate do-gooders, or because we're skeptical of too much selflessness, the research shows that, as Epley put it, "It just doesn't get any better than giving half of the cookie."
3. Saverin, Diana. "The Entrepreneur Who Wants to Save Paradise." The Atlantic 2014 Sept. 15
In 2004, Conservaci√≥n Patagonica acquired the Chacabuco Valley and has since been turning it into what the Tompkinses call the Future Patagonia National Park. It is this 178,000-acre plot of land that everyone in the region is now talking about. Once they bought it, the Tompkinses began their efforts to restore the land to the state it was in before humans exploited it. They sold almost all the 30,000 sheep and 3,800 cows that came with the property. They built several large stone buildings with wide, divided-light windows and pitched copper roofs. Their employees and volunteers removed more than 400 miles of fencing and pulled plant after plant of invasive species out of the ground. 
Meanwhile, gauchos and locals in town puzzled at the couple’s desire to build stone mansions and bring back wild species. Tompkins’s tendency to drop out of the sky in his small red and white plane and his insistence that all guests and employees take their shoes off inside his buildings only added to the mystery. Few in neighboring towns were quick to trust their eccentric new neighbor—the organic farmer, the WASPy backpacker, the amateur architect, the billionaire entrepreneur, the high-school dropout, the former ski racer, the grizzled mountaineer, the bold whitewater kayaker, the daring bush pilot, the audacious land-grabber, the radical environmentalist, the would-be savior of the Patagonian wilds—Douglas Tompkins.

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