Archive for July, 2002

Monday, July 29th, 2002

This Washington Post review caught my eye:
“In the standard list of artistic masterpieces, [the Hamzanama] may not ring a bell. Even the most dedicated museum-goers don’t know about the lavishly illustrated manuscript executed for Akbar, great Mughal emperor of India in the 16th century. But they should. And some day they all may, if a breathtaking, groundbreaking show at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery has the ripple effect it ought to.”
The Hamzanama, Heroic in Deed
If you’re in DC, you can see the exhibit at the Sackler Gallery. For the rest of us, this online intro will have to do. The snapshots of the Hamzanama are breathtakingly gorgeous.

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Sunday, July 28th, 2002

They don’t put that in the Islamic Revolution brochures: Iran has a huge prostitution problem. The war with Iraq created thousands of war widows, many of whom have no other way of making a living in a society with an already high unemployment rate. The government is at a loss what to do, so their latest idea is licensed “decency houses.”
The Revolution did bring a higher literacy rate and greater social justice for the lower classes, but at what cost?

Sunday, July 28th, 2002

I’ve had a crippling back pain since last Saturday. I have a tendency to slouch when I’m working at the laptop and I must have pulled something. I can’t get in and out of my car, I can’t pick up stuff from the floor, or go about anything without pain shooting in the lumbar area. I hope the chiropractor can do something for me tomorrow. I had to miss one yoga class and I’d hate to miss another.

Wednesday, July 24th, 2002

I went to a reading at Dutton’s bookstore tonight where Jean Harfenist read from her story collection A Brief History of the Flood, which won rave reviews, including from the New York Times’ Michiko Kakutani. The excerpts she read were excellent and I’m getting the book. Please check out her book and support a local author!

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2002

Chaim Potok passed away today. Jewish American literature has suffered a great loss.
Here’s an excerpt from The Chosen and a sampler of his works from the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2002

Where have I been? Why didn’t I notice this book before?
I was doing research at the library today for a syllabus I’m designing and stumbled on a description of The Poet Game, by Salar Abdoh. The novel is about the 1993 bombing of the WTC, and about the Iranian man who is sent to infiltrate the Muslim radicals who are responsible. It dates from a couple of years ago (2000), but I’m surprised that it hasn’t gotten more write ups after what happened last year. It’s unusual to have a “terrorist thriller” written by an Iranian, but I’ll have to check it out before forming an opinion… Here’s a piece on the author and the book:

“Everyone with ears, eyes and a television has a September 11 story to tell but Salar Abdoh — a teacher at City University in New York — has one that’s better than most. Forget TV: ears and eyes were all he needed when, a little after 9am on that morning, he heard an explosion near where he was teaching an English class. Very near, in fact.
‘I was almost at the foot of the World Trade Centre when it happened and for a second I thought I was going to bite the dust. But I wasn’t afraid, I was fascinated by this ball of flame coming towards me. People were saying this and that, that an aeroplane had hit the building, but right away I knew what had happened.’
Abdoh knew because a year earlier he had published The Poet Game, a spy novel set in New York in the aftermath of the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing.”

Books: The man who was waiting for September 11

Monday, July 22nd, 2002

From corporate sponsorships of school programs, it was only a short step to their involvement in textbooks. Here is an interesting article in today’s Christian Science Monitor:

“What if a junior-high school textbook wrongly stated that John Marshall was the United States’ first Supreme Court Chief Justice, instead of John Jay? Or that the Louisiana Purchase occurred in 1804, not 1803? No one would fault textbook publishers for fixing factual errors like these found in recent textbooks. But, when it comes to “fixing” harder to define social or political biases, what happens when publishers eager to make a sale are willing to edit content that special-interest groups object to — or even submit their books to those groups for input prior to publication?
The practice of self censorship is increasingly apparent here in Texas, where battles over textbook content are epic. (…)
The lobbying roster of 70 speakers [at the public hearings over 2003 social studies texts] included Hispanic college students and the NAACP wanting more minorities and women represented in textbooks, Christian groups seeking more conservative interpretations of issues, and social-studies teachers arguing against such tinkering. (…) Conservatives over the years have battled such things as a photo of a woman carrying a briefcase, the theory of evolution, and “overkill of emphasis on cruelty to slaves.”"

Texas wrangles over bias in school textbooks

Monday, July 22nd, 2002

The Old Man and the Haircut
“A hair salon owner crediting his own redone hairstyle as giving him an edge has won Key West’s 2002 Ernest Hemingway Look-Alike contest among 154 white-bearded men claiming resemblance to the U.S. writer.”
Overstatement of the evening? “New York City policeman Dennis Sullivan, in his pitch for the title, said, “It would lift the spirits of every New Yorker.”
Hair salon owner wins Hemingway contest. Link via Moby Lives

Monday, July 22nd, 2002

“The Bush administration announced yesterday it will withhold $34 million in international family planning funds from the United Nations, saying the organization implicitly condones forced abortions and sterilizations in China. The move drew praise from abortion opponents and criticism from proponents of family planning, who said it will undermine poor women’s health. Conservatives had lobbied the White House for months on the issue, saying the U.N. Population Fund, or UNFPA, violated U.S. law by supporting China’s “one-child” policy, which has led to abortions against women’s will.”
U.S. Withholds $34 Million in Family Planning Funding to U.N.

Admittedly, the Chinese government’s policies are immoral, but does the administration want us to believe that the only beneficiary of UNFPA services is the Chinese government? What about the women in Africa or Latin America or Russia whom UNFPA helps with family planning (pills and condoms)? Is penalizing China really the lesser of the two evils?

Saturday, July 20th, 2002

Season finale: Back to the status quo.
The 10-day confrontation over the island of Leila (Perejil) is over, after a U.S.-mediated deal. The Spanish and Moroccan foreign ministers are to meet Monday in Rabat. According to the Post, “[The] Moroccan newspaper, Al Alam, faulted the government’s lack of foresight, saying that it should have understood in advance the “betrayal” of the Spaniards and notified the United Nations, the European Union and NATO “as soon as Moroccan security agents arrived on the islet.” The Madrid daily El Pais editorialized today about the “conflict that Rabat never should have started and to which the Spanish government overreacted with a military deployment that is proof of the diplomatic failure of Aznar’s policy toward Morocco.”"
At least the goats on the island must be happy that life is back to normal.

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