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Sometimes, when traveling or on vacation, I find that I've had a surfeit of tasty but not so healthy food.  Heaping portions, or frequent intake of desserts, or rich sauces, or too much fried whatever. And then I reach a point where I am starving for some steamed veggies, a big salad without any cheese or croutons, a luscious piece of refreshing fruit. Likewise, sometimes I hunger for some mental "nutritional" content; even though a certain amount of pie fighting or meta can be "tasty" in small quantities.

In the past few days, as we've all watched and discussed the serious issues arising from events in and around Syria, there have been some solid informational diaries that were not widely read because the focus was on rec list diaries that became arenas for fussing and fighting. Below the orange creamsicle, I bring attention to some of those "meaty" offerings.

InAntalya has presented two diaries that begin to define a sort of taxonomy of the various groups and geo-political/social/religious/ interests that make up the Assad opposition. This is pretty worthwhile information as we consider who are those "moderate rebels" that the US might end up supporting - and who are the multitudinous other rebels who could pull the rug out from under them (and us).  Please go read both of these diaries
Regarding the Syrian Rebels
Regarding the Syrian Rebels II

Today, Lenny Flank offered up a tour de force, comprehensive history of the use of chemical and biological weapons.  It may be too comprehensive for some, so if you aren't interested in the Spartans or Carthagenians, or the Boer War; well - just scroll down to a more modern era (though you'll miss some very interesting stuff)
Go read it.
History of Chemical/Biological Arms Race: Chapter One
(BTW, if you wonder why someone would be able to present such a comprehensive history at just this moment in time, Lenny explains)

In my previous life as a freelance writer, back in the 80's and early 90's, I did a lot of magazine articles on chemical weapons, particularly about the "binary nerve gas" controversy during the Reagan Administration, and the proliferation of chemical weapons in the 1980's to countries like Syria, Libya, Iraq, Thailand, and others. I had a couple sources in the Pentagon and in disarmament groups like SIPRI. I started work on a book manuscript on the subject, but in 1993, when the Chemical Weapons Convention was signed, interest in chemical weapons plummeted, and I never finished it.
Finally, our own Meteor Blades has been presenting some well-thought out and sourced analysis. Not least of which is periodically evaluating the expected votes in Congress. No matter which side of the debate you fall on, this is good to know; and is an invaluable guide on where to apply pressure for your position. This is democracy in action. Now, an MB diary is not going to be neglected or overlooked, but last I checked his most recent diary had a bit over 100 comments, while the rec list flame fests had hundreds and hundreds.
His latest whip count is
Latest whip count on Syria shows nays gaining

Finally, as a sort of lagniappe, I share this. Some commenters lament that even though they find the content of a particular diary useful or informative or thought provoking; they wish they could bypass the right margin sniping and argumentation. It seems many are not aware of the available tool to collapse comment threads.
You can CTRL+click on the little gray triangle next to a comment, and it will collapse all comments in that thread. So the next time you see a "poopy head ping pong" game getting underway, and you don't want to witness it (or participate), you can shrink it down and quickly go on to what may be more thoughtful comments and dialogue.

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