The Syrian Refugee

The New Yorker, 26 October 2015:

Syria, 2014: Assad wins re-election with eighty-eight percent of the vote. His victory, he declared, was “a bullet directed toward the chests of the terrorists.”

The going price to smuggle a refugee out of Turkey: $5,000.

In late May 2015, a smuggler named Jamil announces on WhatsApp that a boat is available to take 154 refugees to Italy (Self multiplies $5,000 by 154 and comes up with $770,000. And that’s just one boatload)

The boat is “a white trawler, thirty-eight feet long, with a knee-high railing around the bow.”

The refugees are shocked. One, a pregnant woman named Reem, says “It was a very small boat for a trip to Italy.”

The overloaded boat can’t manage the trip and heads back to Turkey, where the smugglers abandon ship before the Turkish police get there. The refugees return to Mersin, pool their money and “rent a cheap apartment . . .  Once again they were stuck, and the boredom was excruciating.”

The smuggler Jamil re-surfaces and dangles another trip but refuses to return anyone’s money.

A Syrian refugee named Ghaith makes another attempt. This time the smugglers use hand pumps “to inflate a twenty-five-foot black raft” to which an outboard motor is attached. A smuggler asked “if anyone knew how to steer.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

“After Us, the Deluge”

The Force wasn’t enough today.

RIP, Carrie Fisher.

2016, self is so done.

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Vanishing Point, Capitola-by-the-Sea

#aleppohasfallen

America is not, and can never be, an isolationist country.

We are not this, okay? We are not.

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Isolation breeds extinction.

Samantha Power, US Ambassador to the United Nations:

  • “Are you incapable of shame?”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

CHAOS 3: Can Hardly Wait For It To Be Over

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Jill Lepore on the State of Debate: The New Yorker, 19 September 2016

How to argue is something people are taught. You learn it by watching other people, at the breakfast table, or in school, or on TV, or, lately, online. It’s something you can get better at, with practice, or worse at, by imitating people who do it badly.

— Jill Lepore, “The State of Debate,” in The New Yorker, 19 September 2016

Self begs to differ. She actually doesn’t think people can improve their debating skills by watching other people.

She also thinks that the rules of debate are rendered bizarrely unimportant when the debate is being televised. Because, whether consciously or subconsciously, the debaters will start to “perform.” Of course they are not their true selves. Hello! It’s like Judge Lance Ito in the OJ trial — he was a judge but he was sort of being a certain kind of judge. You cannot tell self that television did not influence his behavior: it could have gone two ways: Ito could have been a little more spontaneous, perhaps to get more of an emotional rise out of the crowd. Or he could have become more “judge-y” — projected more of what television viewers might expect to see from a judge. Self thinks Ito took the second route, and the one who paid was Marcia Clark.

The ones who get better at debate are the ones who see some sort of advantage accruing to themselves as a result of being better (more argumentative) people. The people who see absolutely no point to debate will continue to do their own thing in their peaceful little corners of the world.

When a committed debater meets another committed debater, the debate ceases being about words. It becomes a power grab.

It’s such an empty enterprise, really. All bells and whistles and see-who’s-paying-attention. Especially when it’s conducted for television.

Just self’s two cents.

(Self, when did you get so cynical? Dunno. Mebbe from watching/observing from the sidelines for so long?)

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

WSJ, Monday, 26 September 2016: Women’s Rights

In WSJ World News, a piece by Margherita Stancati: “Saudis Press King Over Women’s Rights”

Saudis sent telegrams to the king on Sunday pressing the monarchy to end male guardianship rules for women, the culmination of an unprecedented monthlong effort to abolish the system.

By Sunday evening, activists estimated hundreds of people had sent a copy of the same message to the royal court asking King Salman to cancel regulations that give men the final say on many important decisions in the lives of female relatives.

It is a change for which women’s rights activists in the ultraconservative kingdom have long campaigned. The telegrams are one of several grassroots initiatives that have sprung up since July, when an Arabic hashtag that translated to “Saudi women want to abolish the guardianship system” first went viral on Twitter in the oil-rich Gulf nation.

Saudi Arabia’s ban on women driving has been criticized worldwide.

 

News, First Friday in August 2016

APPLE MAKES SLIGHT DIVERSITY GAINS (Wall Street Journal, Thursday, 4 August 2016)

And that’s news?

LOL LOL LOL LOL

Stay tuned.

Excerpt, “All the Missing”

Sharing an excerpt from “All the Missing,” a piece self wrote when the news about Jacey Lee Dugard first broke:

They’re alive, all of them.

One day they’ll present, alive and well.

They’ll be older; a few might even have their first gray hairs.

They’ll come out of tents or basements or caves, or wherever it is they’ve been kept, all these years.

Their names are Ilene, Michaela, Polly, Sandra.

Some are blonde, some are brunette, some are redheads.

When they disappeared, some weren’t even old enough to have braces.

The pictures their parents gave to the police were — almost always — school photos.

This piece was published in Phoebe, Spring 2012.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

The Girl on the Train: Gathering Steam

Self quite likes this novel.

She takes back what she posted yesterday: that there is no Ruth Rendell like Ruth Rendell.

Paula Hawkins reminds self a lot of Ruth Rendell. A lot.

That psychological tension.

The setting is a satellite community of London. The protagonist is jobless. To stave off depression, or maybe as a consequence of depression, she keeps up her weekday routine of riding the commuter train into London and back.

P. 80:

I’d been in the library on Theobalds Road. I’d just emailed my mother (I didn’t tell her anything of significance, it was a sort of test-the-waters email, to gauge how maternal she’s feeling towards me at the moment) via my Yahoo account. On Yahoo’s front page there are news stories, tailored to your postcode or whatever — God only knows how they know my postcode, but they do. And there was a picture of her, Jess, my Jess, the perfect blonde, next to a headline which read CONCERN FOR MISSING WITNEY WOMAN.

And as for the awful bombing of the Orlando nightclub, and the wife of the perp being questioned by authorities, a friend remarked:

  • As long as she keeps talking, they won’t charge her. They need every bit of information she can give them. When there’s nothing more she can tell them, that’s when they’ll charge her.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Trying To Think of the Good In Life (Pure 3)

Just two days ago, the sun was shining, all felt right with the world.

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Central Park, New York, Friday 10 June 2016

And this was a picture self took in Bletchley Park, outside London, just a week ago:

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Bletchley Park, Where World War II Codebreakers worked to turn the tide.

And another from Bletchley Park. The swans are exceedingly tame and are so used to people that they let children go right up to them and pet them.

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The tamest swan self has ever encountered: Bletchley Park, June 2016

In solidarity with the people of Orlando, Florida.

Stay tuned.


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