12 September, 2007

Updates on Israeli airstrike on Syria

Josh Landis over at Syria Comment has a series of posts updating the swirl of information, conjecture, rumors, and speculation over last Thursday's Israeli air strike on Syria. Be sure to check out his Recent Post column for the evolution of the story over the last few days. Turkey is none too pleased about this, either.


Leaving on a jet plane, soon.

Just watched: 2 Days in Paris, written, directed by and staring Julie Delpy. I LOVED this film!
Just discovered: The band Over the Rhine, who play literate and hard to define music, and the bibliophile blog 50 Books where Doppelganger reviews all her great reads and lusts after remarkable bookshelves (proving I'm not the only one with a bookshelf fetish).
Reading: My Nikon D80 manual, causing me to cast longing glances at my 30+ year-old Pentax K1000. I'm like an Amish kid on Rumspringa with digital right now.

Saturday will begin my last week in the States. Here are the plans. I leave on the 22nd for Istanbul. I fly via Chicago and Dublin and arrive at about 9pm on the night of the 23rd, which is far preferable to those 2am arrivals into Damascus. You're generally a quiet audience, but if anybody has any advice for an 8 hour layover in Dublin, please let me know.

The refugee women I teach on Saturdays threw me a party last week. Lots of laughing and lots of food from Afghanistan (chicken and pilaf - amazing) and Liberia (sweet potatoes, greens, chicken, and "broken rice"-delicious). I brought the music of Usted Farida Mahwash for one of my Afghan students and she danced and sang along all afternoon, making sure to point out to me which instrument I was hearing or something important about the structure of a song. Om-Taromeet is visiting Saturday for my last class. I will really miss these women.

Packing is a difficult balance. Clothes are relatively easy. Books are the hard part for me. I remember how expensive books in English are over there (not to mention a $25 New Yorker), which makes my diet an expensive one. There are the "I must takes": a few books on Turkish and Arabic, Kelby's book on Photoshop for CS2; the "I need to read"s: Said's Orientalism (I swear I'll finish it this time) and Covering Islam, a biography of Badshah Khan, Art & Fear, Reading Like a Writer, and Freely's Istanbul; and the "I want to read"s: The Mystical Poems of Rumi, Sontag's Styles of Radical Will, Maalouf's The Gardens of Light, Montaigne's Essays, Homer's The Iliad & The Odyssey, McCarthy's The Road. I'll be handing them off as I finish them, hopefully in trade. Of course I am still hunting for Munif's Cities of Salt and have my eye on Kinross's The Ottoman Centuries and Shafak's The Bastard of Istanbul. But, you have to say yeter at some point.

Om-Taromeet will visit from Florida tomorrow through Sunday. She told a class of 5th graders at her school I was moving to Turkey. They laughed, hard pressed to believe there is some place out there named after the bird they eat on Thanksgiving.

Ramadan karim and L'shanah tovah to my friends celebrating today.

11 September, 2007

Internet Censorship in Syria

Charlie don't surf* and, apparently neither do Syrians these days. Somebody please reply to Golaniya's question about solving the comments issue, especially in light of the Syrian government criminalizing anonymous comments. Like Turkey, the Syrian government seems to be going with the "it's to protect against defamation" claim. I wonder exactly what the forthcoming new media law will entail?


*I'm assuming you've seen Apocalypse Now, yes?

09 September, 2007

"Kicking a$$" in Iraq, the musical.

President Bush used a colorful phrase this week to describe his opinion of the progress of U.S. Forces in Iraq. His remark provided me a perfect opportunity to share video of one of my favorite songs. For once, and I suspect only once, thanks Shrub. May I present our new national anthem:

Fear not, good people of Turkey, I'm not like these fellas. Though, in the interest of disclosure, I do have relatives who bear a resemblance to the one in the overalls.

Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie are two of my absolute favorite Brits. Everybody should get the DVDs of A Bit of Fry and Laurie.