Geography: The Middle East

It is now more than 20 years since I've been to the Middle East, but after reading three (3) news alerts that the three kidnapped Israeli teenagers were found dead, I went to the maps.

Hebron, close to where the teens were found is just under 20 miles from Jerusalem, 32 kilometres.   I drive that distance one-way nearly every day to buy groceries, see friends and run errands.

In the old City of Jerusalem when one is on the roofs one can nearly touch Hebron.

Israel's borders consist of several countries that border Iraq.

Iraq has six neighbors on its borders.

The spiraling violence in Iraq, and in Israel, affects all these countries directly and those nearby, especially countries like Lebanon.

It is doubtful that these conflicts between the Sunni and the Shia, the Palestinians and the Israelis, has been this threatening since the 12th century and the Crusades.   Yes, we've had wars, too many, far too many, and the 6 Day War was a turning point for Israel, but the establishment of a Caliphate (announced today) by ISIS reminds me of Saladin.

The unleashing of all this violence can not end well.


What do we know about Dickens?

When I wrote my blog post about writers and their politics, I had given the issue considerable thought. 

Now, these two writers, Thomas Mallon and Adam Kirsch take a look at the issue from a different perspective in this week's New York Times book review section. 

What do we know about the writer's life. 

Each of the authors have a different opinion and present a case from their own perspective and from and about the perspective of living and deceased authors.

Two examples that resonate for me are Lillian Hellman and William Shakespeare.

Lillian Hellman, 1939 © via NY Times review          

Lillian Hellman was reviled by her protractors because they believed they, and not she knew the truth.

William Shakespeare, Martin Droeshout engraving, 1609, via Wiki

Conversely, the mystery that surrounds William Shakespeare both elicits favour and an untold number of conjectures.

Sigmund Freud, 1926, Ferdinand Schmutzer via the Freud Museum

And in typical Jungian fashion, and true synchronicity, the Washington Post reviewed Adam Phillips new book, " Becoming Freud: The making of a psychoanalyst" in which many illuminating statements are made about memory and the biographical state. 

A book I've put at the top of my long list of must reads.

Fawns on the Lawn

Although I wish I had fewer deer, it is always amazing to see the children of the animals that venture around the property.

Fawns, 2014 © Pentamento

These two fawns came out just before sundown to eat the clover.   I didn't risk going out to greet them so the photograph is taken through the window screen.


A baby step in malaria prevention

So, after years of neglect, several countries, and multiple agencies will fund chemo-prevention for the young in (some) of the African countries most affected and impacted by a parasitic disease, in this case malaria, as reported here.

To date, no vaccine exists for any parasitic disease. 

Until now the countries with many of the highest risk populations have not addressed the issue(s) internally, that is, use their own resources for the eradication of environmental hazards that exacerbate mosquito infestation.   Simply clean water.

A malaria-infected baby lays in a bed in a malaria ward in the main hospital in Juba, Sudan. Photograph: Tony Karumba/AFP/Getty Images via the Guardian ©
Options do exist, but ethics, morality, finance and ignorance conjoin to often make simple options fail.

The Guardian published this piece about an option. 

Although I was acutely aware of how fortunate I was not to have contracted malaria, while most of my colleagues did, now that I have contracted Lyme Disease, I probably appreciate all the more how "ignorance" plays a role in good medical care.  Although I recognized, later than sooner ,that I had been affected, the local physician refused to give me prophylactic treatment and I went untreated longer than is sensible.

Now I am like those inflicted with malaria:  fevers, chills, fatigue and muscle pain.  

Now it is too late, just like it often is too late for all those young people in the world who get that one infected mosquito bite.


Who reaps the wheat?

Fascinating map and accompanying text at the Washington Post that shows which company leads the pack financially by state.


A Writing Workshop Glossary

The New York Times had this article on a writing workshop glossary.   At first I put the article into my follow up file, then wondered! 

Now that I've read it after reading this update about the origin of McSweeney's, Dave Egger's baby, I wonder how does one distinguish between the traditional and the unconventional.

In the years I've attempted to write and have written, I've attended one weekend long workshop, and one ongoing workshop in Boston for about six months.   I also participated in a series of Poetry Workshops funded by Poets & Writers.

I am no expert, but I am a voracious reader, or was one until recently, and have my opinions about good writing.   I also have some experience as an editor of medical essays and a book on schizophrenia.

What is good writing?  What engages the reader regardless of topic?

Hans Feibusch

Exhibit 1937

Here's a piece I read in the New York Review of Books that I rank as "sterling."   Written by Michael Kimmelman, "The Art Hitler Hated," the author not only addresses the subject but provides a path to understanding a historical perspective that is both enthralling and fun to boot.  Yes, I am personally interested in art, and the holocaust, but Mr. Kimmelman gave me a fresh look at both and introduced me to some of those most affected by this period in art history.

Caste system (partial) India

Today I read an article about India's Feudal Rapists.  I believed I would learn something new about the increase in rapes in this country, and also more about India itself.   I struggled through the article for the opposite reasons I enjoyed Kimmelman's.   The author's claim is that the caste system is responsible for many of the rapes, yet nowhere in the piece are the castes explained.  Even after I searched around the web for a more thorough understanding of the castes referenced in this article, I was left unfulfilled.

Certainly the writer,
Good writing clearly extends far beyond an interesting subject;  it has to both engage and provide the information necessary for a rewarding read.