Archive for October, 2007


Iraq: the media, or Michael Yon?

October 23, 2007

Make up your own mind.

I’ve pretty much made up mine.


Eating alone

October 22, 2007

I found this, from Global Voices, very touching.


Good news from Afghanistan

October 22, 2007

At least I think so.

OTTAWA — A strong majority of Afghans approve of the presence of NATO-led troops in their country, including from Canada, and want the foreign soldiers to remain to fight the Taliban and support reconstruction efforts.

In a poll of Afghans conducted by Environics Research on behalf of The Globe and Mail, the CBC and La Presse, respondents expressed optimism about the future, strong support for the government of President Hamid Karzai and appreciation for the work being done by NATO countries in improving security.

In Kandahar, where the Taliban is stronger and violence more pervasive, support for the foreign troops was weaker, but respondents still want the soldiers to stay.

Spread the word.


How to win a Nobel Prize

October 14, 2007

Or rather — how to react on learning that you have.

Doris Lessing’s response on being told she had won the 2007 Nobel Prize for Literature was a muttered, ‘Oh crap’.

Helen at Umbrella Blog gives a good appreciation of Lessing’s work here (after hammering the decision to give the Peace Prize to Al Gore).

I’ve always been a huge fan of Lessing. About 20 years ago I happened across the first of the ‘Children of Violence’ tetralogy — Martha Quest — and was instantly hooked. I hunted down the other four volumes straightaway and consumed them (I think that’s the right word for it) in a few days. The marvellous ‘Canopus in Argus: Archives’ science fiction series followed, as did Memoirs of a Survivor (which I struggled with a bit), The Good Terrorist, Mara and Dann and The Sweetest Dream.

She is one of the greatest writers of this and the previous century. Or any other.

Update: Lessing is getting some flak for this interview. Hmm.


A walk in Ramadi

October 13, 2007

Join Michael J Totten as he walks the streets of Ramadi, Iraq.


Right brain/left brain test

October 13, 2007

Take this really cool test and see which way your brain works. If you see the figure spinning clockwise, you’re using the right side of your brain. If anti-clockwise, the left.

Via Norm Geras, who says he can only see her spinning clockwise. I can see her spinning both ways. Just what that says about me I’m not sure.

Tip: watch the left heel when she’s going clockwise, or, even better, the shadow beneath it. You can make her go the other way by forcing her left foot to reverse direction. It makes your brain hurt a bit, but it does work. Try it.

Actually it gets easier the more you practice. You can make her bounce forwards and backwards quite easily. I don’t mean anything sinister by that.

It might scramble your brain, though.


No place here for heroes

October 11, 2007

Pieter Dorsman wraps up the shameful Ayaan Hirsi Ali saga for Pajamas Media. The Netherlands refuses to protect her, and the United States cannot.

While Salman Rushdie and Christopher Hitchens stepped up to support Hirsi Ali yesterday, many will wonder what has prompted this drastic approach, apparently at odds with that notion of Dutch tolerance and freedom. It left one terse commenter in a Canadian newspaper yesterday wondering why on earth they had bothered to liberate the Dutch some sixty years ago.

Pieter’s thesis is well worth reading.

Update: Hirsi Ali with Salman Rushie last year. Something tells me they have a lot in common.