Archive for March, 2009

Looks Like Orlando, c.2005

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Cranes ahoy

Jad Aoun, who runs the best new blog to come out of Lebanon in at least three cedar rings (I should feature him at About soon), started a bit that could write itself most days of the week: the Pavlovian reach for the Beirut simile (“Looks like Beirut”) the moment anything anywhere burns, crumbles, washes out or explodes, whether it’s a terrorist bombing in whoknowsistan or a tornado’s wreckage in Oklahoma.

A couple of days ago Jad gave his award to an unimaginative hack in Britain, but illustrated his bit with a shot of downtown Beirut, the one above (literally and figuratively) which struck me as oddly Orlandoesque–not a compliment to Beirut, if you know Orlando, the Tripoli of Florida (the Libyan one, not the more acceptable Lebanese one). Orlandoesque, that is, when Orlando’s real estate industry was still on Viagra, erecting cranes every four hours and screwing every vista in sight. It’s all collapsed now, thank heavens (you can see the sky again), Orlando is humbled, its arrogance as flaccid as its economy. Which leaves us, me, with Beirut to long for.

Jad, if you’re listening, more photographs of my old native city (Hopital Risk) at dusk, please. One request in particular: Beirut with Sannin in the background, preferably at dusk, when the snows of April look pink in the setting sun and the smell of sweet lemons and akke-dene is in the air. No similes. Just the real thing, because…

Recession Readables: March 31

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

With newspapers getting thinner and broadcasters never anything worth stealing from, it’s getting damn hard to find worthy material to mix with morning coffee. No wonder readers are rebelling. Here we go anyway, starting with this Slate photo essay on the recession (click on the image):

Israeli Army Drops Atrocity Inquiry

Monday, March 30th, 2009

gazaAnybody surprised? There was little doubt that an internal investigation into the Israeli military’s abuses in Gaza was going to be a whitewash. It was predicted, though the gall of calling all the allegations “rumors,” when almost 1,500 Palestinians were killed in 22 days, is impressive.

B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization, fires back: “The internal investigation ignored a significant amount of material that was collected and that coincides with soldiers’ testimonies recently publicized in Israel media. In addition, the Military Advocate General disregarded allegations that several of the commands given during the military operations were illegal. It is clear that in this case, the Military Police Criminal Investigations Department (MPCID) has decided to focus on the individual soldier, a measure which is neither effective nor reliable.”

It isn’t a question of whether atrocities took place. The mere casualty toll makes it plain that Operation Cast Lead, as it was obscenely called, was an atrocity in execution. The only question, and it’s less relevant to Palestinians than it is to Israelis, is how deep the mentality of brutalism as policy has sunk into the ranks of the Israeli military.

JimG Special

Monday, March 30th, 2009

GM is going down, JimG’s favorite feature is (maybe) coming back. Here are the Readables for today, new and yet-to-be disproved. (And again: my apologies for links opening a new window, but it’s the only way to make this work in the context of the Notebooks’ front page):

Quote of the day: “Michelle Malkin, who, if she were a sex-selling whore (and, while the Rude Pundit cannot confirm anything, he’s pretty sure she’s swapping blow jobs for appearances on Glenn Beck’s nightly crazoidfest), she’d be the type of hooker who tells you all the crazy shit she could do to your dick if she hadn’t sprained her back, but if you double the price, she’ll work through the pain, stalked the family of a twelve year-old boy who almost died in a car wreck. even going to their home. Her point? That they owned things and thus didn’t need SCHIP.”–From The Rude Pundit, of course.

Palestinians’ False Note

Monday, March 30th, 2009

True beauty is rare. Stupidity is rampant. Last Wednesday, 13 young Palestinian string musicians and old Israeli Holocaust survivors created a rare moment of beauty free of boundaries as they found themselves face to face at the Holocaust Survivors Center in Holon, a suburb of Tel Aviv, performing, listening, and at times singing together. Neither group realized it would be facing the other until the moment happened. Neither group regretted it. Far from it. They reveled in the moment, learned more than a few heartbreaks one from the other, and posed for pictures together.

When the Strings of Freedom orchestra returned home to Jenin, the Palestinian refugee camp in the West Bank, their music director, Wafa Younis, was fired, her studio apartment in the camp shuttered, and the orchestra disbanded. The reason: Adnan Hindi, leader of the camp’s Popular Committee, which sounds like one of those proto-fascist guilds of grass-root thuggery, decreed that Younis had deceived her musicians and had exploited them, in The Times’ account, “for the purpose of ‘normalizing’ ties with Israel. The full story…

Global Hoops

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

0329-bahrainLike every newspaper battling the crumps, The Times is launching a new gimmick every other day. Two, today: a blog for parents on the brink of bankruptcy (it’s ominously called “The Choice”) and a new edition, called Global Times, designed for more spherically minded people (as opposed to homebound flat-earthers). Quick proof. The cover photo of the domestic web page this hour is of Michigan doing something in the NCAA basketball tournament. On Global Times? First it was to Arab sheikhs, now it’s news of a deadly stampede in Ivory Coast. So: If you’re American, stick with hoops. Anybody else: The planet spins on, and not to the tune of a court buzzer.

Better Nursing homes Than Schools

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

Six people are being reported killed in a North Carolina nursing home somewhere south of Raleigh and Greensboro near Fayetteville. Newspapers being the skeletal creaks they are these days (most wouldn’t qualify for assisted living), both the Fayetville paper and the News & Observer in Raleigh are going with the same AP story running in The Times. The local television station is more detailed: the shooter was a young man, which is disappointing, in that it removes the one and only justification for nursing home shootings, which are the modern equivalent of slave revolts: you can’t blame patients, as they’re still called, for wanting to throw off the shackles. For many people in these concentration camps (I speak from the dual experience of seeing both my parents disintegrate in a few of them until we finally found them slightly redeeming places, though we ourselves will never be redeemed for condemning them there) a shooting is the undiscovered blessing–visa to the undiscovered country. I suspect in the years ahead school shootings will become a lot less popular, especially as we go into a demographic troth, while nursing home shootings will shoot up. Just wait until the violent generation of the late 1980s and early 1990s retires to these places. At least they’ll make them fun. Cynical line in that dispatch from the nursing home (actually, an assisted living facility): “The hospital is currently on lockdown. No one can enter or leave the Pinehurst facility.” But they’re always on lockdown. They are Guantanamo at $4,000 a month.