(Also note the images of the front covers of the four separate Newsweek issues. Asia: "Losing Afghanistan". Latin America: "Losing Afghanistan". Europe: "Losing Afghanistan". US: "My life in pictures".)
Then we have videos from Afghanistan, from the communications department of Dadullah Akhund. I liked the music in the first one, but the second one is the fascinating one, where he's handing out slips of paper to suicide bomb volunteers. Look at that first boy, so pretty, and how he can't keep a straight face at the martyrdom video bit at the end where he's meant to be gesticulating at the camera angrily. Can you peer through someone's face into their mind?
Via MoorishGirl, Gen. Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan (YouTube) plugging his memoir on the Daily Show in the US. Interesting short interview. If you're interested in that sort of thing.
And something more lighthearted, from susiebright - magic striptease act from Ursula Martinez.
Scientific evidence suggests that we should. Apparently, illegal drugs only crudely imitate the more natural "highs" that most of us get from wholesome habits -- using internal chemistry to reinforce love of family, music, skill, beauty or country.
Is this why so many find it easy to "just say no" to drugs? Because we already know how to press the same buttons... inside our minds?
What follows is an open letter to scientists who could answer such questions. Especially the following:
Might some addictive mental states be doing as much harm to society as all the heroin, cocaine and crack on our streets, combined?
I want to zoom down to a particular emotional and psychological pathology. The phenomenon known as self-righteous indignation.
We all know self-righteous people. (And, if we are honest, many of us will admit having wallowed in this state ourselves, either occasionally or in frequent rhythm.) It is a familiar and rather normal human condition, supported -- even promulgated -- by messages in mass media.
While there are many drawbacks, self-righteousness can also be heady, seductive, and even... well... addictive. Any truly honest person will admit that the state feels good. The pleasure of knowing, with subjective certainty, that you are right and your opponents are deeply, despicably wrong.
Sanctimony, or a sense of righteous outrage, can feel so intense and delicious that many people actively seek to return to it, again and again. Moreover, as Westin et.al. have found, this trait crosses all boundaries of ideology.
Indeed, one could look at our present-day political landscape and argue that a relentless addiction to indignation may be one of the chief drivers of obstinate dogmatism and an inability to negotiate pragmatic solutions to a myriad modern problems. It may be the ultimate propellant behind the current "culture war."
If there is any underlying truth to such an assertion, then acquiring a deeper understanding of this one issue may help our civilization deal with countless others.
[full text here; An Open Letter to Researchers of Addiction, Brain Chemistry and Social Psychology from David Brin, Ph.D.]
An interesting recent one is "putting crushed valium in a drink". Whoever you are, think hard about whatever it is you're planning to do (rohypnol or temazepam might do the trick better, but valium doesn't taste of much anything)... and do drop by again sometime...
House-building has not advanced since the Victorian era. The Victorians were quiet people who were not into fat bass and therefore the sound insulation is atrocious. The drains or plumbing invariably have some sort of problems, and houses are poorly insulated against heat or more importantly, cold.
Apparently, through some accident of architectural acoustics, it is possible for the upstairs neighbours to hear everything that goes on in this room, and for me to sit in the bathroom and hear what is going on upstairs. Apparently this is so, as I received another late-night knock asking to keep the noise down. I wasn't making a noise and nor was anyone else. Or maybe my typing now is keeping them awake in bed.
I couldn't decide whether to be belligerent about it or sympathetic, so I asked: "Is it really that bad? Is the sound insulation seriously that bad?" The answer I got of yes seemed sincere. So did the "We can hear everything you're saying, we can hear the music as if it was in our room. We're trying to sleep, the kids have to get up at 7 - 7! - in the morning..." Shit, I've been waking at 5...
If that is literally true: that it is really possible to hear everything that is said in here in a normal voice... Goodness... You have been witness to some really scandalous stuff... You might as well have been reading realgem... No, better even...
If that is literally true... Well... I'm not saying anything illegal ever took place or was ever discussed, you dig? What, everything? You've heard... what exactly? Interesting proposition. You know about... that thing? and... that thing? and...
God. I wish I had such interesting neighbours. We'd have a lot in common.
Well, I do, but neighbours horizontally rather than vertically. They are wonderful people. All I ever hear from upstairs is some kid being told off. Repeatedly and at length.
I don't have curtains on my windows either, so I can always see the sky.
click here or new link in the sidebar
writes better stories than i ever did of skulduggery heroin and squalor on the streets of delhi ('Jail story' here)... another from among the malung's weird gallery of acquaintances...
in practice it demonstrates that you have to be lucky to make a living as a writer, or then you have to live lucky and be a writer... and you probably still won't know why you keep doing it...
blogger doesn't seem to support persian characters yet. this might have been better done with the scanner rather than the camera. hope you can read it.
this is a link to Khudi, Allama Iqbal's poem as adapted by Junoon and set to their "Sufi-rock". (I know people have criticised this version but you don't have to listen. It doesn't stream very well anyway.)
The first two powerful and often quoted lines can be rendered into English in many ways. like:
Endow thy will with such power
That at every turn of fate so it be
That God himself asks of his slave
"Tell me, what is it that pleases thee?" or my own loose:
Strengthen thy will with such power
That at every twist of fate
God himself asks of his slave
"Tell me: what is thy will?"
Allama Iqbal is undisputedly considered the greatest poet of Pakistan / Muslim British India, writing in Urdu, Persian and English. His magnum opus was the Asrar-e-Khudi (Secrets of Self). Remaining firmly within the Muslim tradition, tending to the Sufi, his philosophy of khudi - self - or Will (in the Crowleyan sense) has echoes of Nietzsche and Goethe. He preferred writing in Persian and considered Rumi his greatest inspiration (the Persian/Afghan poet appears in some of his poems as some sort of muse or presence)...
Eu tava muito satisfeito poder entender quasi tudo que o narrador falou, mas quando o cara da amazonia (o daimista de 43 anos) falou, nao entendi uma palavra exceto alguma coisa sobre divinidade universal. Nao sei se tem a ver com seu sotaque, o com os 43 anos da ayahuasca.
Tambem no Fantastico, o Barquinho e a estranha Uniao de Vegetal, [[aqui]] o aqui:
(Brazilian prime-time Globo broadcasts about the Church of Santo Daime and ayahuasca and other religious groups that use it. Scan through it even if you can't understand.)
Some friends have been raving in a millionaire mansion and got themselves on the front page of the Standard... Good reporting from The Times, contrasted to the cheap sensationalism of "littered with broken glass and used syringes and needles" (there were none) of the Evening Standard...
And here is a local newspaper report of the house I knocked down with the power of my will (see scaling north face) , in the Islington Gazette...
FOUR men were lucky to escape with their lives when a former crackhouse and squatters' den collapsed without warning.(Earlier on realgem, stories from the old house, when it was still standing: Squatting stories, or, the alchemist of Camden Road, a photo of the house, Squatting stories 2, or, sexual problems of the disabled, which has some of the house's history. Between the story of SPOD and our arrival there, the house had indeed been a crack house, in case you thought the people mentioned in the Islington Gazette article were us... Needles, crackpipes, condoms thick on the floor, with little junkie nests, filthy mattresses surrounded by drug detritus, in the corners of the rooms... That was a fuck of a cleaning job... Oh, it was civilised enough there, for a "squatter's den", and when we left, only my room was littered with the odd needle... Jan-May 2005, realgem was published from the nicest, most comfortable apartment on the top floor of that old house... I almost miss it, if it weren't for the people and the memories... The office furniture manager is hopefully referring to the previous occupants in the article, who were bad crack niggers who had taken it over from some homeless working girls... They were removed by armed police and the place bricked up to rot...
A thunder-like boom was heard and clouds of dust filled the air when the floors in the four-storey house suddenly came crashing down.
Yes, I do believe buildings pick up energies, and once you've pieced the story of the Camden Rd house together, you will understand when I say its aura was tainted... Paulette blames that house for how things fucked up between us, and to me, it meant this...)