The Weekly OT #12
I was so impatient to see Heaven Is For Real that I bought the book. Then I didn’t need to see the movie. Same may happen with this one.
Cornie composed a new song, “Priceless“, in memory of biking out to see the fireworks two summers in a row with his brother, Tim. The first year they forgot the chopsticks with which to eat their Cup Noodles. They ate ’em anyway (don’t ask how). The next year, they remembered the boiling water and the chopsticks. This year, with no Tim around, he remembered everything and wrote the song.
And my favorite story of the week is the man laughed at for using Aqua Dam: his insight, his victory, and his testimony. Love it!
On that thread, I came across The Prepper’s Blueprint (for survival) and the author’s website, which led me to the Dohm-DS, “the Official Sound Conditioner of the National Sleep Foundation”. Apparently, they are safe to use. And for those who use laptops or tablets before going to sleep, get rid of the harmful blue light with the free mini-app f.lux. I am using it right now as I type this. My screen is a bit yellow-orange, but if it means I will sleep better, hey!
Here is the story of the real Daredevil. Seriously. A blind dude using echolocation to “navigate” and see the world around him. That trumps Professor X and The Wolverine combined!
For interesting and relevant podcasts, this week I enjoyed, among others, Longform’s interview of Seymour Hersh, author of The Killing of Osama Bin Laden, Chain of Command: The Road from 9/11 to Abu Ghraib, and a whole lot of articles for the New Yorker.
Finally, I want to share a personal story and from that perspective, discuss the Forward to an article published this week in the New York Times. Many years back, a person who worked at the Law Society of Alberta which is in charge of the admission and discipline of all lawyers practicing in Alberta, discussed the pitfalls of working in that profession. He told me to listen for the phrases lawyers use. Specifically, lawyers who lie a lot often use the phrases like, “To be (completely) honest with you.” Not only does common sense tell you to ask the question, “So, what, are you dishonest all the times you don’t qualify your speech like that?”, but the fact was, in his experience, the more a lawyer used that phrase, the more shady they found the lawyers to be, and ironically, in the specific instances of usage of that phrase, what followed directly after was usually bogus either through direct falsehood or lie of omission. From an internal affairs perspective, it was a huge red flag. I will never forget that conversation.
This week, the New York Times published a massive article on the rise of ISIS, entitled Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart. I was excited because in recent years, for many reasons, the Middle East has become an area of intense interest to me, and the only thing more exciting than a well-researched article, is one of those that weighs in at more than 40,000 words! Below is the Forward to that article, with my own commentary indicated in footnotes, based on my experience shared above.
This is a story unlike any we have previously published①. It is much longer than the typical New York Times Magazine feature story; in print, it occupies an entire issue②. The product of some 18 months of reporting③, it tells the story of the catastrophe that has fractured the Arab world since the invasion of Iraq 13 years ago, leading to the rise of ISIS and the global refugee crisis④. The geography of this catastrophe is broad and its causes are many⑤, but its consequences — war and uncertainty throughout the world — are familiar to us all. Scott Anderson’s story gives the reader a visceral sense of how it all unfolded, through the eyes of six characters⑥ in Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan. Accompanying Anderson’s text are 10 portfolios by the photographer Paolo Pellegrin, drawn from his extensive travels across the region over the last 14 years, as well as a landmark virtual-reality experience that embeds the viewer with the Iraqi fighting forces during the battle to retake Falluja.⑦
It is unprecedented for us to focus so much energy and attention on a single story⑧, and to ask our readers to do the same⑨. We would not do so were we not convinced that what follows is one of the most clear-eyed, powerful and human explanations of what has gone wrong in this region that you will ever read.⑩
– JAKE SILVERSTEIN, EDITOR IN CHIEF
① Really?! How so?!
② Exciting! Can’t wait to dig in!
③ “some 18 months”? Sounds like Donald Trump, or any non-journalist who likes to exaggerate for effect.
④ Oh, you can trace the rise of ISIS back to its origins 13 years ago? I call bullshit on that. When did you say you started researching this? 18 months ago and you are releasing it now, just in time for the election? Ah, I understand. See, either ISIS started with the war in Syria (on the current administration’s watch), or you really have to go back at least as far as pre-WWI. Much as I believe Dubya should take his due credit here, I want to spread the accolades to include Bush Sr., Regan, maybe a touch of Carter (my favorite president of recent times), Ford, Nixon, etc. etc. all the way back to Woodrow Wilson, and that is if we are only talking about the role of America in this situation.
⑥ “characters”?! You mean witnesses, right? Or, at least, residents, onlookers, stakeholders, participants, or victims (if this is a catastrophe), right?! Surely, we are not talking about fiction here, are we?
⑦ Very cool. Undoubtedly, the NYT has put considerable resources behind this project and wants us readers to get the most out of it.
⑧ Really?! This is the first time the New York Times has ever had a single journalist working on a story for some 18 months, who by the way, was funded by an outside agency. That is what you call “unprecedented” energy and focus?! Either the NYT has been rippin us off in the past and lying about it, or they are doing so now. The red flag is starting to flap in the wind.
⑨ The NYT is asking us readers to focus our energy and attention on their story?! They need to ask?! Don’t we always read their stories expecting that they have put much energy and attention into their work? Shouldn’t we?
⑩The kill shot. Could you hear it, “To be completely honest with you….” ?
And for my own reference, the state of journalistic integrity of the NYT.
And for those who want a whole lot more, there is always Dubious Quality‘s Friday Links!