Adam K. Webb

Palmyra, Centurions, and Fighting ISIS from the Bottom Up

Gronlund-What-Do-We-Want-to-Save-in-Palmyra-690 June 14, 2015
The fact that the chattering classes outraged by ISIS’s atrocities would unleash the latter-day centurions of the air so eagerly, while leashing ordinary people so cavalierly, should give pause to those of us suspicious of the modern state and jealous of society’s spaces.
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Liberty and Circuits of the Sacred

IMG-20140118-00854 January 28, 2014
A few days ago was the first time I heard Chinese being spoken with a heavy Indian accent.  Given the tenor of our times, one might expect this to have been at some gathering of wheelers and dealers brandishing business…
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Memory and the Damming State

shoreline November 12, 2012
The family’s life in this village had come to an end when the lake was dammed in 1958. One wonders who would consider such things worth it.
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A Sheeshah Pipe for the Porch?

hookah May 14, 2012
I came to Cairo to get a better sense of the prospects for such a global conversation. If the battle over values is likely to play out globally in this century, how open are we to our natural allies?
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Driving Around the Panopticon

driving school February 13, 2012
Plenty of space, I concluded with a glance at the approaching headlights in my left mirror.  I let the clutch out smoothly and started what felt like a routine merge out of the service area.  Scarcely had the car started…
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Mafia Among the Mountain Folk, Part II

peru October 27, 2011
“I don’t care if you bring the president of Peru and a thousand police—we’ll be carried out dead before you dig here!”  Thus was the position of the twenty or so irate villagers gathered around us.  The intense Andean sun…
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Mafia Among the Mountain Folk

mountain mafia July 12, 2011
What ironies of fate converged that morning, such that a mob was about to come out on a march against us?
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Untaxing the Virtues

tax man April 12, 2011
What the political mainstream ignores, unsurprisingly, is that any change in how we raise revenue cannot be only about balancing the numbers. It also involves judgements about the texture of society and the virtues that habits of livelihood can inculcate or destroy.
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Of Dragons and Crescents

dragon January 24, 2011
A revised foreign policy true to the principles of the Porch should turn the present one upside down.
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Class and Clerisy

pitchfork shadow October 19, 2010
Some ruling classes in history, more than others, deserve pitchforks.
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The Ties that Stretch and Bind

ties that stretch September 13, 2010
Many a time, I have seen my friend doting on his little seven-year-old half brother, picking him up from school, cooking for him, and keeping his classmates’ junk food at bay. Staying abroad and settling into some sort of upwardly mobile immigrant comfort would go against the grain of years of habit.
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Have We Forgotten the Women?

oppressed women July 30, 2010
Tradition supposedly bears the thumbprints of Roman patricians with browbeaten wives or frustrated monks who shivered in mediæval abbeys.
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Knowing One’s Place at the Ballot Box

ballot July 2, 2010
The prevailing model of local voting has deep defects, which often work against strong communities. The modern standard is one person, one vote, one place. While this standard is simple, it leads to outcomes that run against common sense.
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Castles Built on Sand

sandcastle April 29, 2010
Even for the average homeowner, ownership all too often is imagined as a way of gaming income flow and consumption over a lifetime, accumulating enough to spend down before one has to become a ward of the welfare state. It is part of consumer society, not a buffer against it.
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Perils of the Stationary State

pushing boulder March 1, 2010
When economic growth finally levels off, what kind of world comes after? Shall we be unchained from the mad rush for money of the last century? Or will other but equally chafing chains weigh us down instead?
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