The Guardian, 25 May 2022: Male Afghan News Anchors Mask Up To Support Female Staff

The article was written by Zahra Joya:

Male TV presenters in Afghanistan are wearing face masks on screen to show solidarity after the Taliban issued an order that all women on news channels must cover their faces.

In a protest called #FreeHerFace, men on Tolo News wore masks to mimic the effect of the face veil their female colleagues have been forced to wear after a Taliban crackdown.

The Taliban’s ministry of propagation of virtue and prevention of vice ordered all Afghan media outlets to use masks for female presenters. The decision was final and there was no room for debate, it said.

It follows a decree issued in early May that all women must cover their faces in public and male relatives face fines or jail if they do not adhere. Many women in cities such as Kabul defied the order.

Lema Spesali, 27, a news anchor for ITV in Kabul, said she was given the news of the Taliban’s latest decree on arrival at work on Sunday morning. “Two Taliban members came to our office and said the decision on compulsory masks for female anchors must be implemented.

“We had an office meeting and had to accept the Taliban order, but decided that male colleagues should also wear masks and stand by female colleagues.”

Yesterday, Russell Square

Yesterday, headed to Russell Square with the morning’s Guardian, sipped cappucino at one of the outdoor tables. Hadn’t slept at all the night before, upset about Roe v Wade. Nevertheless, it is so peaceful there, always.

Took these pictures for Cee Neuner’s Flower of the Day.

RIP Christopher Tolkien

It took self all of December to read one book, The Annotated Hobbit.

That book was the only copy in the San Mateo Public Library system, a label on the cover said: DO NOT RETURN IN THE BOOK DROP.

If only the library knew what far-flung places she had taken this copy to!

A few days ago, on 15 January, she heard that Christopher Tolkien, JRR Tolkien’s youngest, who was “a devoted curator of his father’s work,” had passed away. Amazingly, none of the nightly news remarked on it. Philistines!

Here’s a piece in The Guardian about Christopher Tolkien’s legacy.

Stay tuned.

“It is better to travel in hope than to arrive.” — The Guardian’s review of THE OTHER AMERICANS, by Laila Lalami

Began reading The Other Americans two weeks ago. With all the distractions of the past month, self is only at p. 132! But she is enjoying this novel hugely. She especially likes the main narrator, an Oakland-based female jazz composer. (Oakland is definitely the place!)

The point of view in this section is Efraîn, an accidental witness to the death of one of the main characters, “the old man” referred to in the passage below.

After the old man robbed me of the pleasure of watching my daughter’s performance in the school play, he invaded my dreams. Nearly every night, I returned to that little stretch of the 62, my hands covered with grease, and watched his body roll off the hood of the car and land on the pavement. I thought of him now as Guerrero. Merciless in his campaign against me. Early in the morning, when I shaved by the yellow light above the bathroom mirror, he bumped against me and made me cut myself. In the van, while Enrique read the map, Guerrero was in the back, sabotaging our equipment by poking a hole in the carpet-cleaning hose or raiding our food supplies. I couldn’t find my Inca Kola when I opened my lunchbox, even though I had put it there myself. “You can have some of mine,” Enrique said, handing me his can.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

2019: Projected Reading List

2019 will be a great year. Self can feel it in her bones.

First, she’ll start the year trying to read Ove Knausgaard’s My Struggle series. If she makes it through just three or four of the series, she’ll be happy.

It will be the year she gets back to reading Jeanette Winterson: Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal.

She’s going to try re-reading If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler, by Italo Calvino.

Then she’s going to work her way through The Guardian’s Best Books of 2018 list. Which includes:

Almost everything Sarah Waters recommends: National Service, by Richard Vinen; In Our Mad and Furious City, by Guy Gunaratne; The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter; The Vet’s Daughter, a 1959 novel by Barbara Comyn; Swann’s Way by Proust; and (a re-read of) Anna Karenina, by Tolstoy.

Self’s reading list in 2019 will still lean heavy towards fiction. Here’s a partial list from The Guardian’s Best Books of 2018. All the authors are new to self, except for Liz Nugent and Pat Barker.

FICTION:

Ghost Wall, by Sarah Moss; Milkman, by Anna Burns; The Silence of the Girls, by Pat Barker; Melmoth, by Sarah Perry; Red Birds, by Mohammed Hanif; Friday Black, by Kwame Adjei-Brenyah; West, by Carys Davies; Sight, by Jessie Greengrass; Everything Under, by Daisy Johnson; There There by Tommy Orange; Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday; Brother, by Canadian David Chariandy; All the Lives We Never Lived, by Anuradha Roy; Convenience Store Woman, by Sayaka Murata; Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead, by Olga Tokarczuk; Normal People, by Sally Rooney; The Mermaid and Mrs. Hancock, by Hermes Gowar; Washington Black, by Esi Edugyan; The Western Wind, by Samantha Harvey; Now We Shall Be Entirely Free, by Andrew Miller; Painter to the King, by Amy Sackville; Murmur, by Will Eaves.

CRIME:

The Seven Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton; The Stranger Diaries, by Elly Griffiths; November Road, by Lou Berney; Brothers in Blood, by Amer Anwar; Lullaby by Leila Slimani; Skin Deep, by Liz Nugent (who I’ve actually met); Fear, by Dirk Kurbjuweit; London Rules, by Mick Herron; Thirteen, by Steve Cavanagh; Tombland by CJ Sansom; The House on Vesper Sands, by Paraic O’Donnell, and The Vogue, by Eoin McNamee.

Many, many more.

Stay tuned.

2nd Post On Self’s Last Sunday in London

Self is madly reading all the issues of The Guardian she bought in the last week. She thinks she’s making great progress: she’s now on Friday’s Guardian (30 November).

Her attention was caught by a list of The 20 Most Influential Films.

Rather than simply copy out the entire list, self will tell you that the # 1 Most Influential Film of All Time is The Wizard of Oz (1939).

The Second Most Influential Film of All Time is Star Wars (1977).

Third is Psycho (1960).

Fourth is King Kong (1933).

Fifth is 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Citizen Kane (1941) is just # 7.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) is # 10.

Casablanca (1942) is # 11.

The Godfather (1972) is # 13.

Jaws (1975) — what a surprise! — is #14.

Dr. Strangelove (1964) is # 18.

Gone With the Wind (1939) which self was never into, is # 19.

Stay tuned.

What Has Happened to Oleg Sentsov?

In two years, Trump has arranged two of the most bizarre summits in the world:

  • with Kim Jong Un, a brutal dictator, who he made seem, according to The Economist (10 June 2018) “warm, jovial, and eminently reasonable.” The Economist maintains Kim Jong Un “ought to be at The Hague.”
  • with Putin in Helsinki, a “one-on-one” which offered Putin “the chance to be seen as a global statesman, an equal with the President of the United States, the leader of a country whose participation was needed to solve just about every pressing world problem.” (Joshua Yaffa in The New Yorker, 16 July 2018)

In the meantime, what has happened to Oleg Sentsov, who was jailed as a “terrorist” for “protesting against Vladimir Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea and the war Russia’s president unleashed in eastern Ukraine four years ago” (The Economist, 10 June 2018)? No one knows. Here’s the latest article self found about him; it was almost a month ago, in The Guardian.

Trump instead calls for Russia to be allowed back into the G7, which expelled it “for the seizure of Crimea.” According to Trump, that “happened a while ago.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“Blood, Romps, and Lashings”: The Guardian Review of VERSAILLES, Season 1

Self is watching Versailles Season 2. She is so happy the series was renewed! It has proved extremely addictive.

The Guardian: With ladies in milky baths, ocular torture and piles of flesh, Versailles returns for more pre-revolution rumbustiousness (Shouldn’t that be rambunctiousness? Whatever). But is there depth beneath the bling?

Where were we then in Versailles, which returns for a second series? The palace is still under construction, and 1,000 workers have died so far. Versailles was clearly the Qatar of its day, and those gold gates are very Gulf State chic, no?

The writer is Sam Wollaston.

Self bows to your wicked wit, Sir. She bows.

From her visit to Versailles, May 2017:

DSCN0443

Versailles, 28 May 2017: It was too bloody hot.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Guardian’s 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time

There is very little overlap been self’s reading list and the 100 Best Nonfiction Books of All Time by The Guardian.

Below, books on The Guardian’s list that self has read:

2. The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion

5. Dreams From My Father, by Barack Obama

9. Dispatches, by Michael Herr

15. The Double Helix, by James D. Watson

20. Silent Spring, by Rachel Carson

23. The Elements of Style, by William Strunk and EB White

33. The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child-care, by Dr. Benjamin Spock

42. Testament of Youth, by Vera Brittain (for a course on the Literature of World War I, taught by Prof. Albert Guerard at Stanford)

44. Goodbye to All That, by Robert Graves (for a course on the Literature of World War I, taught by Prof. Albert Guerard at Stanford)

65. Roget’s Thesaurus

83. A History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, by Edward Gibbon

92. The Diary of Samuel Pepys by Samuel Pepys, via Claire Tomalin’s excellent biography of Pepys’ life

Sentence of the Day: Sian Cain, The Guardian

As an antidote to the extremely respectful commentary The Economist has been according POTUS (which drives self crazy, she just might discontinue her subscription), here is The Guardian which really knows how to do satire:

The nicest thing anyone can say about US Vice President Mike Pence — a man who vigorously opposed marriage inequality and looks like an Action Man assembled from Play-Doh and cold cuts — is that he knows how to name a pet.

— from Vice-President Mike Pence disappears down the rabbit hole, by The Guardian’s Sian Cain, 20 March 2018

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