Tired pooch.

Tired pooch

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The Lady of Shallot – Lord Alfred Tennyson

This is a beauty, thanks to Mr. Gerard Van der Leun. It is so true. Enjoy:

Yes, it takes time. The finer things always do, don’t they? Take the time. Enlarge the soul.

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Afghanistan: “Love and Ruin”

“Love and Ruin” is a charming and long article by James Verini on the Grandmother of Afghanistan.  I very much enjoyed reading it, and that is why I am sharing it.  Below is an excerpt to whet your appetite.

Prologue

It has no official number in the archaeological record, nor an agreed-upon name. Some curators at the National Museum of Afghanistan in Kabul, where it resides, have called it the Limestone Head. Others call it the Carved Pebble. Still others call it simply the Head, and while there is no question that the artifact they’re talking about depicts a head, the answer to the question of just whose head it depicts—which person or deity its unyielding eyes and screwed mouth reflect—is lost, like so much else in Afghanistan is lost, to some insolently mute vault of time.

The Head is carved into a limestone pebble two and a half inches high by one and a quarter inches wide. It dates from around 10,000 B.C.E., placing it in the Upper Paleolithic and making it one of the oldest pieces of sculpture ever found on the Asian continent. We know that it turned up in a gorge near the village of Aq Kupruk, in the northern foothills of the Hindu Kush. Beyond that we know nothing. The best that the most thorough scholarly paper written about the Head—published by the American Philosophical Society in 1972, seven years after it was discovered—can say for its subject is that it is “apparently humanoid.” Was it devotional, decorative, whimsical? “Was the head made for a onetime limited use or was it intended for long-term retention and repeated use? … Since it will not stand, was it intended to be carried about?” The Head won’t say.

But its dumbness beckons. The Head’s sculptor was far cleverer than an artist living 12,000 years ago had any call to be. The eyes are not crude circles (all you’d really need in the Upper Paleolithic, you’d think), but composed of a series of subtle line strokes, as though they are contemplating us wearily. The nose, the American Philosophical Society paper observes, “begins with a wide angular cleft rather like that of the nose cavity in a skull and seems almost to be intentionally ‘unrealistic,’” while the “deeply engraved line of the mouth itself apparently arcs upward in what seems to be a smile.” The paper concludes that the Head does not come from an “individual or cultural ‘infantilism.’” Yet the overall effect, millennia later, is a kind of infancy. It’s somehow fetal looking, the Head. Some observers see on its face a smile, others a frown, and still others that inscrutable expression, neither frown nor smile, that a wise child makes when he peers into you.

The archaeologist who unearthed the Head, who might have had the most questions about it, had the fewest. Louis Dupree was certain it depicted a woman—and, furthermore, that it had been carved by one. “What else?” Dupree said to a New York Times reporter, rather tauntingly, in 1968, when he brought the relic to the American Museum of Natural History. “Women ruled the hearth and the world then. The men were away hunting.” Of course it was a woman.

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Comments on blogs…

Mine is a miniature blog, few read it -really- a few family member a few friends and a few colleagues. The amount of mere garbage/spam in terms of comments that I receive weekly is astounding.  Is it worth it to keep the comments section open, despite some good and  special comments I received?  No.  I don’t think so.   I will leave my email for those who want to connect with me.  But the cesspool of comments is not worth leaving an open door.

 

 

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Loved the song…Sundown…

Aw, shucks… There was something truly intriguingly wonderful about this Canadian singer when I was a young student…  Still, to this day, his songs make an impact.

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Somewhere, somehow, he gives his Mother a thrill and a reason to worry…

Thanks to American Digest.

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Afghanistan: The Book of Kings, or Shahnameh

Samangan is one of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces.  What I did not know, is that it is also the setting of an epic love story, that comes from the Persian equivalent of the Odyssey and the Ilyad:  The Book of Kings, or Shahnameh.

The story, written in verse around 1,000 years ago by Persian poet Ferdowsi, tells how a mighty warrior, Rustam, makes it all the way to Samangan, seeking his lost horse.  While the guest of the king, Rustam retires to his chambers, after enjoying a sumptuous meal with the king, only to be woken up by the king’s daughter, Tahmineh, who declares her love for the warrior.  That one night of passion, that results in a marriage, yields a son, whom Rustam will only meet in battle many years hence.

The woeful story of Rustam and Tahmineh and their son Sohrab starts like this:

STORY OF SOHRÁB O ye, who dwell in Youth’s inviting bowers, Waste not, in useless joy, your fleeting hours, But rather let the tears of sorrow roll, And sad reflection fill the conscious soul. For many a jocund spring has passed away, And many a flower has blossomed, to decay; And human life, still hastening to a close, Finds in the worthless dust its last repose. Still the vain world abounds in strife and hate, And sire and son provoke each other’s fate; And kindred blood by kindred hands is shed, And vengeance sleeps not—dies not, with the dead. All nature fades—the garden’s treasures fall, Young bud, and citron ripe—all perish, all.

And now a tale of sorrow must be told, A tale of tears, derived from Múbid old, And thus remembered.—

I have discovered a treasure trove of information about the epic Persian poem at The Fitzwilliam Museum.

You can find the whole translated epic in Project Gutenberg.  There is also a new illustrated version of the Shanahmeh, that has been a labor of love for filmmaker Hamid Rahmanian.

The Atlantic Magazine and CNN have interesting articles explaining the new version of the Shahnameh.  Enjoy!

 

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How I wish I could sit on this bench and meditate….

personalheader.jpg

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Afghanistan: New President Ashraf Ghani’s TED talk.

I highly recommend watching this 2005 TED talk by new Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. ( http://www.ted.com/talks/ashraf_ghani_on_rebuilding_broken_states#t-1109799)

 It helps understand the man and his experience and vision and thoughts on foreign aid and support.  It is 18 minutes long, but –for those of us who are closely associated with Afghanistan,  I think it behooves us to understand what Afghanistan’s new man at the helm thinks.  Ghani has been a Brookings Institute scholar, and –as Strobe Talbot mentioned, it is the first time in 98 years that a Brookings Institute scholar has become a head of state.  

 

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Afghanistan: Faces.

The faces of Afghanistan are a poignant reminder as to why we are there:  http://stevemccurry.com/blog/faces-afghanistan.

 

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Afghanistan: Women’s prison.

Check out http://www.theguardian.com/world/gallery/2014/sep/01/inside-an-afghan-womens-prison-in-pictures.  In Afghanistan, women who go to prison have their young children with them.

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The Cockroach.

Kevin Halligan’s poem about a cockroach has these last stanzas:

Was this due payment for some vicious crime

A former life had led to? I don’t know

Except I thought I recognised myself.

HAHAH! I certainly don’t recognize myself in this dead giant cockroach that I saw in Bangkok, and was so perplexed, I took the pic!!! But, maybe, others might… why? I don’t know…but, be my guest.
Android 050

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The power of seeds!

UPDATE:  I find it amusing that this morning I picked up the Washington Post’s “Sunday” newspaper versions (advertisements, the Arts Section, the Magazine and Parade), and am looking at the sad version of Parade (once upon a time, it used to be a more robust magazine), and I find a little blurb on Chia dogs and seeds!!!  Even the photo is similar to mine!

Last Christmas, I got a little “Chia dog” as a present from a dear, dear office colleague. It was a joke. We were all sharing cheap presents while having a lovely time eating a great holiday meal. It took me a few months to finally get the little clay dog to sprout seeds. I kept the clay dog at home for a while, and then…I decided to bring it to the office…where we all shared some good laughs!!! Because, how many people do you know who have actually grown the Chia seeds???
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Of mice and men…bureaucrats and cheese…

Sacré bleu!  European Union bureaucratic games have crossed The Atlantic.

The new rules have resulted in holds even on super-safe Parmigiano Reggiano

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In Public Relations, size is not all!

Sometimes small groups are more nimble in handling public relations.  From the Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction:

You may have noticed that many SIGAR reports have made the news. One reason is that we publish, post, tweet, and otherwise publicize virtually everything we do.

Some people are unhappy with the fact we get press coverage, even though our two-person press shop pales in comparison to the squadrons of PR people at Embassy Kabul, ISAF, or DOD. Some people think we’re doing this to attract attention and gratify our egos.

Via Diplopundit.

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