The Sex Appeal of Spies
Are spies like us? Just watch this. And then, well ensconced in romance and nostalgia, consider that Ian Fleming said—or did he write?—that “men want a woman whom they can turn on and off like a light switch.” This essential, and fierce, masculinity—or is it chauvinism?—has defined the literary history of spy-craft right up until Lisbeth Salander (and, n.b., Salander doesn’t work for her government). Is this is something we want in the genre, something we expect in spy storylines, even today? When spy-craft is coupled with “romance” it seems there is to end to our appetite for it. Now, as the U.S. government prepares for the latest round of well-intentioned realpolitik, it is worth considering why artful espionage, and the presence of seduction, romance and narrative within in, still seduces us.
Witness Bond. Witness Anna Chapman. The Russians who lived here under pseudonyms lived “normal” lives. It is the disconnect between what we think we know and what may otherwise be true that forms the crux of seduction; in the end we might want to believe we know less than we know. Rather than feeling deceived, as a government might feel/behave, individuals with an ear for story will always want to think that this neighbor, or that colleague, might be living a more sensational life than what appears to be the case. This suburban lie is the comedic heart of current cultural sensations, like Big Love. For the extraordinary among us, the cliché goes, things are rather ordinary. For the ordinary, the belief holds that there is something more than what we see.
The Cold War provided a certain geo-political stability, a storyline that everyone accepted. White hats, black hats, Wise Men and Dominos. In post-Cold-War times we are constantly racing to re-possess the glamour of those days, a glamour that came not from knowing what was next, but from not knowing.
The prospect of A Spy Next Door is less a threat than a seduction. Ann Chapman and her colleagues are a reminder that we can let go our narrow condescension for things we think we know are true. All spies (alas) do not look and act like Bond, providing further rationale for everyone to hew to the Golden Rule.
It is worth watching this, if for no other reason than as an antidote to Anna Chapman. Simon’s lyrics alongside the classic Bond titles are ageless. They capture what we all want to feel all the time: challenged, protected, and in awe:
Nobody does it better
Makes me feel sad for the rest
Nobody does it half as good as you
Baby, you're the best
I wasn't looking but somehow you found me
It tried to hide from your love light
But like Heaven above me
The spy who loved me
Is keeping all my secrets safe tonight
And nobody does it better
Though sometimes I wish someone could
Nobody does it quite the way you do
Why'd you have to be so good?
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It's one of the most consistent patterns in the unviverse. What causes it?
- Spinning discs are everywhere – just look at our solar system, the rings of Saturn, and all the spiral galaxies in the universe.
- Spinning discs are the result of two things: The force of gravity and a phenomenon in physics called the conservation of angular momentum.
- Gravity brings matter together; the closer the matter gets, the more it accelerates – much like an ice skater who spins faster and faster the closer their arms get to their body. Then, this spinning cloud collapses due to up and down and diagonal collisions that cancel each other out until the only motion they have in common is the spin – and voila: A flat disc.
It's not just a case of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
- A new study suggests children who endure trauma grow up to be adults with more empathy than others.
- The effect is not universal, however. Only one kind of empathy was greatly effected.
- The study may lead to further investigations into how people cope with trauma and lead to new ways to help victims bounce back.
Do you have a magnetic compass in your head?
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