The theme here lately is Hamlet, although you can scroll down to links and comments about current events if Shakespeare doesn't do it for you.
After Hamlet whacks Polonius, he is ordered to be sent to England under the company of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, who unbeknownst to themselves carry with them an order for Hamlet's death at his uncle Claudius' command.
On their way to the ship, they pass the army led by young Fortinbras of Norway en route to fight with the Poles over a worthless piece of land. Fortinbras doesn't show up much in the play, but he serves as an anti-Hamlet, someone who is all action with little forethought.
Hamlet questions the soldiers about their mission and is shocked and shamed to find that they are about to sacrifice many lives for some worthless real estate while he can't even manage to avenge his own father's murder by Claudius.
Here's some of the dialogue:
HAMLET Goes it against the main of Poland, sir,
Or for some frontier?
CAPTAIN Truly to speak, and with no addition,
We go to gain a little patch of ground
That hath in it no profit but the name.
To pay five ducats, five, I would not farm it;
Nor will it yield to Norway or the Pole
A ranker rate, should it be sold in fee.
HAMLET Why, then the Polack never will defend it.
CAPTAIN Yes, it is already garrison'd.
HAMLET Two thousand souls and twenty thousand ducats
Will not debate the question of this straw:
This is the imposthume of much wealth and peace,
That inward breaks, and shows no cause without
Why the man dies. I humbly thank you, sir.
CAPTAIN God be wi' you, sir.
Hamlet is shamed by the contrast between their action and his own inaction:
How all occasions do inform against me,
And spur my dull revenge! ...
Witness this army of such mass and charge
Led by a delicate and tender prince,
Whose spirit with divine ambition puff'd
Makes mouths at the invisible event,
Exposing what is mortal and unsure
To all that fortune, death and danger dare,
Even for an egg-shell. Rightly to be great
Is not to stir without great argument,
But greatly to find quarrel in a straw
When honour's at the stake. How stand I then,
That have a father kill'd, a mother stain'd,
Excitements of my reason and my blood,
And let all sleep? while, to my shame, I see
The imminent death of twenty thousand men,
That, for a fantasy and trick of fame,
Go to their graves like beds, fight for a plot
Whereon the numbers cannot try the cause,
Which is not tomb enough and continent
To hide the slain? O, from this time forth,
My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!
STRANGE BEDFELLOWS. The Economic Policy Institute and the Peter G. Peterson Foundation don't agree on much, but EPI's Lawrence Mishel and Peterson CEO David Walker have published a joint op-ed arguing that job creation needs to take precedence over concerns about the deficit until we get out of this recession.
INEQUALITY MATTERS. Here's another item on how inequality and social status affect health and longevity. The wonky term for this is the social determinants of health.
UNEMPLOYMENT. The unemployment insurance fund of El Cabrero's beloved state of West Virginia is heading south despite legislative action last year aimed at ensuring its solvency.
THE WAR ON SCIENCE is on.
CULTURE AND EVOLUTION. It looks like the former has affected the latter.
COOL FOSSIL. One has been found of a snake eating baby dinosaurs.
GOAT ROPE ADVISORY LEVEL: ELEVATED