Imagining the Paris underground.

The ghosts of the Parisian underground could soon be resurrected if city voters play their cards right in the upcoming mayoral elections.

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Afghanistan and its lapis lazuli.

From Diolun Designs:

Can you imagine a world without painting?

So it begins with this title…the page dedicated to Children’s  art education on the J. Paul Getty Museum website…  During the Renaissance, “a deep blue paint was made by crushing the valuable gemstone lapis lazuli into a fine powder and mixing it with other ingredients. This costly blue was used most often for the clothing of the biblical Mary. If a picture included a woman wearing clothes painted with lapis blue, people understood it was probably Jesus’s mother…” Beauty and goodness….

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Beautiful Objets d’Art: Diolun Designs.

Summer Rains and Jackson Pollock.  My talented sister created these -using the lost wax casting method- exclusively for the Thyssen Bornemisza museum in Spain.

Teaspoon, Butter Knife, mini porringer?, and napkin holder in Sterling Silver- designed exclusively by Cynthia Dillon for the Museo Thyssen - Bornemisza Shop in 2002

Teaspoon, Butter Knife, mini porringer?, and napkin holder in Sterling Silver- designed exclusively by Cynthia Dillon for the Museo Thyssen – Bornemisza Shop in Madrid. ca. 2002

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Afghanistan: Women’s Access to Mobile – an infographic.

Who has ever reported on this success other than the U.S. Government?  In my research, I always have to dig deep to find this kind of information.  It is never really reported.  But I just found a very interesting article on the “Real Story of ‘Twitter for Afghanistan’”, very much worth reading.
Infographic: Afghan Women's Access to Mobile




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Afghanistan: Gender Violence Support.

Regarding Afghanistan, no one ever reports on the many programs on gender violence that the international community has been supporting for many years.   The U.S. Department of State has been deeply involved in supporting the Afghan Ministry of Women’s Affairs for many years.  Recently, the State Department released a Guide to Gender in the Criminal Justice System.  The Guide offers a glimpse of what the U.S. Government does in Afghanistan:

INL Gender

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Afghanistan: Trafficking in Persons.

Unfortunately, reports about Afghanistan always tend to report the negative, seldom the positive. The U.S. Department of State released its 2014 Trafficking in Persons report last June 20th. Interestingly, Afghanistan was removed from the Tier 2 Watch List, and moved up to Tier 2. Because of these efforts, Afghanistan is no longer at risk of losing international funding that had been threatened by a possible downgrade to Tier 3.

U.S. Ambassador Cunningham explains further:

Afghanistan was placed in Tier 2, which represents an improvement from 2013.  I commend the Government of Afghanistan’s efforts in this area. This is real progress. At the same time, I urge the government to build on that progress and to continue its efforts to address the many serious challenges that remain.

The Trafficking in Persons Report recognizes the Government of Afghanistan’s significant efforts to comply with the minimum standards to combat human trafficking as outlined in the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  As noted in the report, the Government of Afghanistan issued a decree directing law enforcement agencies to cease prosecuting trafficking victims.

The Government also took steps to implement its anti-trafficking action plan: both houses of the Afghan Parliament recently approved the 2000 UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.  As result of these efforts, Afghanistan has been removed from the watch list in this year’s report.

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Bog Mummies.

National Geographic has a fascinating article, photos, and a video of the story behind the “bog mummies”.

Via American Digest.

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Our Inheritance

A poem by Duart Dillon Hillas:

Total disenchantment
paves the spiral way
towards the moral aggrandizement
of the things for which we pray,
such that rectitude and certainty
are invariably confused;
hence our aptitude, much as calumny,
finds itself habitually abused.
It is not in an idea
that there exists the fatal flaw,
but that we adopt from Demea
a strict and narrow train of thought.
- October, 2007

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Nest Eggs and Robert Louis Stevenson

Nest Eggs

by Robert Louis Stevenson

BIRDS all the sunny day
Flutter and quarrel
Here in the arbour-like
Tent of the laurel.


Not the Tent of the laurel, but around my front porch.

Here in the fork
The brown nest is seated;
Four little blue eggs
The mother keeps heated.

While we stand watching her,
Staring like gabies,
Safe in each egg are the
Bird’s little babies.


Five little white mottled eggs in a nest that the Mama Birdie built inside the planter in the front porch.



Mama Birdie’s watchful eye.

Soon the frail eggs they shall
Chip, and upspringing
Make all the April woods
Merry with singing.

Younger than we are,
O children, and frailer,
Soon in blue air they’ll be,
Singer and sailor.

We, so much older,
Taller and stronger,
We shall look down on the
Birdies no longer.


Two out of five eggs hatched.

They shall go flying
With musical speeches
High overhead in the
Tops of the beeches.


These two flew away the next day after posing for the photo.

 In spite of our wisdom
And sensible talking,
We on our feet must go
Plodding and walking.


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Children’s manners.


Succinct.  No one demands perfection, but, somehow, many of us have neglected our duty as parents, and some young kids have turned into little terrors.


A child should always say what’s true
And speak when he is spoken to,
And behave mannerly at table;
At least as far as he is able.

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Fables of old.

If you were a kid today, wouldn’t this table of contents pique your curiosity?    monochromatic table of contents to kid's book with anthropomorphic cartoon animals around the border…and would you not want to find out what happened to all the animals depicted below?

illustrated lion, tiger + bear vignettes adjacent to verse

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When you are old…

One reaches a certain stage in life when Yeats’ beautiful poem has a different resonance.


When you are old and gray and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty will love false or true;
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face.

And bending down beside the glowing bars
Murmur, a little sadly, how love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

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2014 Fragile States Index.

Foreign Policy Magazine just published The Fund for Peace’s 2014 Fragile States Index.  The Fund for Peace is a leader in the conflict assessment and early warning field, focusing on the problems of weak and failing states.  The Fund for Peace produces The Failed States Index, an annual ranking of 177 countries across 12 indicators, that is published by Foreign Policy magazine.

For anyone who works in or with fragile states, or is interested in in-depth analysis of these states, visiting The Fund for Peace’s website is a must.


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Though I have never really paid much attention to soccer/football in my life (although I have watched an occasional world cup game), I must say that tonight’s Portugal-USA game was riveting.

Despite all the Univision commentary… (yeah, I watched the game on the hispanic channel, in Spanish, because I was curious about the network… they have all these dealership commercials for Chevrolets in the DC area where they especially stress you don’t need Social Security numbers to get financing to buy the big Silverados!)…about Ronaldo not carrying his weight, it was obvious, at the end, why the man is considered one of the great ones of soccer. Still, the USA team was spectacular (this coming from an ignoramus of the sport!!!).

I remember watching the world cup in Italy in 1994(?). And listening to the comments then: most mocked the USA team. But one lonely voice did say that we ought not to mock, but to watch…because in 20 years time, the US would yield a formidable team. HAH… the time has come.

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Afghan Artist and salt.

Check out Bashir Sultani’s amazing work.

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