Five Best Thursday Columns

Joshua Hersh on Egypt's violent crackdown, Katy Waldman on the tragedy of the Instagram sunset, Greg Satell on Amazon's lackluster earnings, Dan Cass encourages scientists to take political action, and Jesse David Fox applauds John Oliver of The Daily Show.

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Joshua Hersh in The New Yorker on Egypt's violent crackdown After witnessing the recent violence in Egypt that has killed more than 500 people, Hersh argues against the new government's needlessly hardline path. "It didn't have to be this way," Hersh writes. "[I]t was painfully clear that Egypt’s leaders had arrived at this moment by their own doing. For the Egyptian military, this was a catastrophe of choice." Ryan Bradley, senior editor of Fortune, admits he hasn't "been following Egypt as closely as I should but this by @JoshuaHersh is comprehensive/vital/excellent." "Great, great piece from @JoshuaHersh in Cairo," adds Atlantic contributor Gregory Johnsen. "No, seriously, read this," tweets Ali Gharib, national security reporter for ThinkProgress.

Katy Waldman in Slate on the tragedy of the Instagram sunset Just a week into her Instagram experience, Waldman is already tired of all the photos of sunsets. "If Facebook is where we plaster wedding and baby pictures, and Twitter is where share links and quips, think of Instagram as the last refuge of that much-maligned photographic cliché: the sunset shot." Sunsets have been popular artistic subjects for much of our cultural history, she admits, but novice photographers particularly have trouble with them. "A cultural history of sunset photos ... More thoughtful than has any right to be," tweets Tom Wein, a foreign policy analyst for European Defence Agency. "Good piece on Instagram and 'The tragedy of the sunset photo,'" writes Tom Standage, digital editor of The Economist.

Greg Satell at Forbes on Amazon's lackluster earnings In light of Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' purchase of The Washington Post​, Satell looks at the numbers and finds that the Internet retail company's current bottom line is unimpressive. "Jeff Bezos insists that he can turn on the earnings spigot any time he wants and is merely plowing money back in order to grow the business, but that seems thin to me. …  I believe that there is a much simpler reason for Amazon’s poor earnings performance: They simply do not hold a leadership position in any major category. To see what I mean, let’s look at three: retail, web services and tablets." He allows that Amazon's ease and popularity "makes Jeff Bezos a great man, [but] it doesn’t make Amazon a great business," he adds. "Forbes goes contrarian," notes Bloomberg View publisher Tim O'Brien. "Forbes article making the case that Amazon is a good company but a lousy business," writes David Kay, a European executive at IBM.

Dan Cass in The Guardian on scientific action on climate change Obstinate politicians remain opposed to any action to stymie the arrival of threatening Climate Change, and scientists are generally too fact-based and apolitical to press for action. "However we are in a global crisis, and I believe that the scientific fraternity has an ethical obligation to take action," Cass argues. "We need some scientists to show social leadership, not just scientific leadership." Scientific activism isn't a new idea as "Einstein signed a letter calling on world to renounce nuclear weapons," notes The Guardian editor Jessica Reed. "Time for a climate Pugwash," BusinessGreen editor James Murray tweets, referencing the international scientific political group that hosts conferences on global problems.

Jesse David Fox in Vulture on John Oliver's successful run as Daily Show host While Jon Stewart has been filming a movie, Oliver has excelled as host of The Daily Show. "People weren't necessarily expecting Oliver to fail, but no one was predicting he'd be this good this quickly," Fox writes. "But now we know he can do it, making Stewart's eventual departure far less fraught: There is someone on deck who can do the job." Laurence Barber, a TV critic for Australia's Crikey, writes "This piece by @JesseDavidFox is on point. John Oliver has revitalised The Daily Show, and he is heir apparent." If Stewart does leave soon, New York's home page editor Justin Miller won't be too fazed: "John Oliver shows The Daily Show doesn't need Jon Stewart."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.