Best of Blogs: January 26, 2006
EDITED BY PIERRE TRISTAM/Candide's Notebooks
From the left, the right, the in-between: we include the political,
the social, the cultural and the undefinable.
Featured Blog I: Styrofaim
A Craving for Packing Peanuts
PAUL DAVIDSON /Jan. 25, 2006
[Author, radio commentator, TV producer, screenwriter, wit, blogger: Paul Davidson gives Renaissance Mania fresh meaning, even when his tasty treats turn to styrofoam pellets.]
I have to be honest with all of you. Every time I get a package with something that I’ve ordered off the Internet, it usually comes packed in a huge fluffy blanket of white, stryofoam packing peanuts. They are squishy and soft to the touch, with an almost heaven-like consistency that often makes me think of what Cool Whip might have been if it had been frozen solid, divided up into little pieces and then used for packing items for long-term mailing processes. They are intriguing, mysterious…and I am feeling the urge to eat them right this minute. I don’t know what it is — this human desire to eat stuff that we know very well we shouldn’t be eating. For over the course of my entire life I have held objects in my hand and thought to myself, “I wonder what would happen if I ate that? I wonder how it would taste? I wonder I wonder I wonder.” From pennies to thumb tacks to Elmer’s glue… From cat food to pink fiberglass insulation to a piece of velcro. Read the rest of Paul Davidson's craving...
Featured Blogger II: Silent Massacre
An Urgent Appeal to Save Iraq's Academics
KHALID JARRAR/TELL ME A SECRET /January 24, 2006
[The daily toll of American soldiers killed in Iraq manages to get two or three inches of print on newspapers' inside pages on most days. The daily toll on Iraqi civilians manages to get two or three inches every other month. The toll on Iraq's academic class--its intellectuals, its professors--gets nothing at all. Khalid Jarrar of Baghdad launches an appeal and a petition.]
A little known aspect of the tragedy engulfing Iraq is the systematic liquidation of the country's academics. Even according to conservative estimates, over 250 educators have been assassinated, and many hundreds more have disappeared. With thousands fleeing the country in fear for their lives, not only is Iraq undergoing a major brain drain, the secular middle class — which has refused to be co-opted by the US occupation — is being decimated, with far-reaching consequences for the future of Iraq. Already on July 14, 2004, veteran correspondent Robert Fisk reported from Iraq that "University staff suspect that there is a campaign to strip Iraq of its academics, to complete the destruction of Iraq's cultural identity which began when the American army entered Baghdad." The wave of assassinations appears non-partisan and non-sectarian, targeting women as well as men, and is countrywide. It is indiscriminate of expertise: professors of geography, history and Arabic literature as well as science are among the dead. Not one individual has been apprehended in connection with these assassinations. According to the United Nations University, some 84 per cent of Iraq's institutions of higher education have already been burnt, looted or destroyed. Iraq's educational system used to be among the best in the region; one of the country's most important assets was its well-educated people. This situation is a mirror of the occupation as a whole: a catastrophe of staggering proportions unfolding in a climate of criminal disregard. Read the full post and sign the petition at Khalid Jarrar's blog...