The reno are almost done. The counter top (quartz) has been measured and will be installed on Monday afternoon along with the sink. Then the plumbing and back splash will be done when my guys are free. That might be a few weeks.
Hockey is in full swing. Surprise teams are the New Jersey's Devils with their three rookies. Nico Hischier, who scored his first goal last night and added another one. Ottawa's Senators are also doing good despite Captain Erik Karlsson's absence. He is back now but not fully ready. Baby steps on his rebuilt ankle. Toronto's Leafs are performing as expected. Against the Wings, Auston Matthews was fantastic. Again. They even shot out the Caps in Washington.
Nikita Kucherov in Tampa is a scoring machine.
I'm outlining what I want to write for Nanowrimo. I might not write much but I setting up a goal of 5000 words.
Sherry Thomas' A Study in Scarlet Women. The first in her Lady Sherlock's series. Fabulous remixing of Sherlock Holmes. Totally. Charlotte is point on. So is Livia. Mrs Watson, so good. I liked how Thomas turned things around and a non fan of Holmes will like it too but for the fan there are Easter eggs hidden all through the book. Charlotte "Sherlock" Holmes is fun and logical. Genius but with some empathy, especially for her family. The twists and turns of the introductions of the "known or expected" characters are wonderful. Mrs Hudson, John Watson, Moriarty are there in one form or another.
Cinder. Marissa Meyer. Android fairy tale. Looks interesting.
Level up. Cathy Yardley So far it's keeping me interested. Geek girl working in game developing looking to move up as an engineer.
Ces livres qui nous font du bien. Christilla Pellé-Douël. An essay on how reading heals. It's an inspiring idea.
This week's hockey highlights
I went back to bed after Cordelia left for school. I slept another three or four hours (not sure when I actually fell asleep). I still want more sleep, but Cordelia will be home in an hour.
Rumors where Scott works are that there may be an opening for a supervisor on third shift. If there is, he wants to apply and thinks he has a good chance of getting it. Both of us have mixed feelings about it, but getting a supervisory slot on either second or third shift is the only path to advancement from where he is. The times he's applied for jobs off the factory floor, the decision has always come down to him and one other person who has supervisory experience. Even when supervisory experience isn't relevant for the position, it matters. The fact that supervisors make more money matters, too, but they get more mandatory overtime to go with it because there has to be a supervisor there if anybody's working.
It would mean that he and I would never sleep at the same time and that he'd no longer see Cordelia for that little bit of time before school (he never used to when she was getting up for a later start time). Another downside is that he and I wouldn't intersect for meals very often-- I'd eat breakfast before he got home and both lunch and dinner while he was asleep. I'd need to alter my daytime activities a lot so as not to wake him when playing music or watching DVDs. He thinks that I can do more than I did while he was on that shift temporarily, but we'd have to experiment a bit to find the parameters.
He did tend to get more sleep when he was (temporarily) on third shift and so would be more awake/energetic in the evenings, and it meant being able to deal with his medical appointments without taking time off.
The recapture of Raqqa from ISIS, a giant human-piloted robot in Japan, Diwali in Nepal and India, wildfires on several continents, a horrific terror attack in Somalia, the British National Plowing Championships, and much more.
JOB TITLE: Human Woman (living)
JOB DESCRIPTION: To be a Woman, you’ll have to spend 97% of your mental and emotional energy making yourself small enough to not be a burden. You may spend the other 3% of your energy cherishing dreams of a better world, but we ask that you maintain a professional demeanor and keep them to yourself.
A strong candidate must:
- Be physically small but, you know, not scary thin (#bodypositive)
- Effortlessly beautiful (because openly caring about your appearance is vain), but always by comparison to a capitalist standard of beauty that takes literally entire industries to produce
- Amusing but not actually funny (everyone knows there’s no such thing as a funny woman)
- Smart enough to understand when and how to agree with the boys, but not overbearingly intelligent (as in, to the point that you might disagree with the boys)
- Emotionally vulnerable to the extent that you cry at weddings, but never for anything that actually relates to your life (because let’s face it, then you’re probably being too sensitive and/or menstruating, both of which are equally disgusting and unnatural)
- Be able to express dissatisfaction, but only in a spunky/hot way, and only if you make it clear that your anger is never directed at a man. No one likes a nag
- Love sex, but only at the time, pace, and circumstance that your male sex partner wants you to love it (note that this also applies to women who don’t have sex with men)
These job requirements can and will change at a moment’s notice. Luckily, an entire subculture of Internet trolls exists to let you (and us!) know when you’re not doing a good job at being a Woman. Essentially, you will need to be endlessly nurturing, understanding, competent, and selfless, but like, be casual about it.
NOTE: If you are over the age of 30, not white, not thin, not conventionally attractive, or some godforsaken combination any of these traits, then it is also your job to be invisible, and to only materialize when specifically called upon.
PAY: Depends on prior experience, salary history, and race, but definitely less than a man with the exact same profile. Regardless, you’ll be made to feel that it was all your fault for leaning in too hard (you childless monster), and/or not leaning in enough, (you lazy baby factory).
CONTACT: We ask that interested candidates send in their résumés, headshots, and thoughtful cover letters about why they’re not like other (potential) Women. We’ll get back to you in a timely manner (by “timely” we mean “when it is not an inconvenience to us”).
FINALLY, AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: No follow-up calls, please. Don’t be so needy.
No real name. This was an instafilk based on a FB post
TTTO "People" by Barbra Streisand
People who hate people
Are the horrib'lest people in the world,
Whiny, bratty children
And they're letting they're trollish side
Make fun of and deride
Acting more like cavemen
Haters are most annoying people,
They're the angriest people in the world
They're on Twitter
On Facebook and on Twitter
They're missing part of their soul
So they attack and they troll
They'll use ALL CAPS and swear
So there is a person
Who hates people
People who hate people
Are the angriest people
In the world
The original song, for comparison, is on Youtube
WHY? HOW? Last night I stepped on an earring while going to bed. Now I keep my earrings on a tree. So the back would have had to come off and this earring fell somehow missing the tray AND the dresser (where the tree sits in the middle). And it was a cheap earring (because if it had been an expensive one the post would have bent/snapped) so the post went into my heel right where the arch begins, embedding a full inch into me. I had to prise it out, it bled, my foot hurts (same foot with the broken toe) and now I need a tetanus shot.
I had a series of bizarre interlated dreams. My BFF, SRA’s hubby MPA was trying to help me with my new house. I seemed to have bought a house in an older (think 60s) subdivision which would be about what I can afford. However, instead of being in my house he was at my parents’ tearing up their brand new game room floor in a pattern not unlike a Christmas tree. I was so upset. I kept saying that all I wanted was a killer computer/internet system but he was hell bent on decorating everything (though I have no idea why).
From there I went to the mall with SRA and Mom. But the mall was terribly run down and I’m not sure why we were there. I went to look at smoething else at the other end of the mall and used what I thought was a shuttle for the mall but it was a bus that cruised around the several blocks. It got back to where I could easily get back to Mom and SRA but I couldn’t get out the door. The one in the rear wouldn’t open and I couldn’t get to the front in time and there was no stop here button for the thing. The old people on the bus laughed at me. I was getting more and more anxious. The city blocks around the mall were the worst slum inner city housing I’ve ever seen (and I used to work in places like Harlem and the South Bronx). I was beginning to think that my new house was in a demilitarized zone.
I woke up at this point but fell back asleep into the stupid basement dream again.
Leaving aside all Doylistic reasons (i.e., that at the time, Lucas had no idea Obi-Wan was lying about anything!), given canon as it currently stands, I feel like I can only blame Obi-Wan for not clearing up 1 (Darth Vader is your father) and 5 (Princess Leia is your sister). More on that below but first, I will quickly dispatch the others:
- 2. Owen was Anakin's stepbrother and they only met once is irrelevant to Luke's situation, because Owen and Beru raised Luke and loved him and were his family in all ways that matter. Otoh, this part: Obi-Wan could have saved himself a lot of time by just telling the kid that he was hidden away to protect him from the Empire, and now it's time to step out I can agree with. That would have been perfect and not in any way set Owen and Beru up against Luke's father's 'ideals,' whatever those were meant to be at the time/according to Obi-Wan.
- 3. Yeah, it would have been great if Obi-Wan gave Luke some background on the Jedi Order, but I feel like there was time for that later, in ghostly chats during downtime or while training with Yoda. I don't know if you lead with philosophy and history when rescuing the princess and destroying the planet-killing space station are the top two things on your to-do list. And Luke spent a few weeks with Yoda so we don't really know what else he was taught aside from all the running and the handstands. He seemed to be doing all right in RotJ anyway, some Force-choking aside.
- 4. I don't think Obi-Wan was advising Luke to bury his feelings forever and ever. Luke may have interpreted it that way (certainly Anakin seemed to, despite ten years of Jedi training), so much as he was saying, don't let them overwhelm you while you're fighting the Emperor and Vader, because they will use your feelings and Leia against you if they can. And he's not wrong - Luke does get overwhelmed when Vader picks up on the whole 'sister' thing, but then he masters himself and wins out, at least in terms of 1. not dying and 2. bringing Vader back to the light. I feel like Coach Taylor lays it out best: "Every man at some point in his life is gonna lose a battle. He's gonna fight and he's gonna lose. What makes him a man, is that in the midst of that battle, he does not lose himself."
Now, the two lies that actually did some damage and Obi-Wan should have pulled on his big boy pants and told the truth (speaking from an in-text/Watsonian perspective):
1. "Darth Vader is your father" - I absolutely understand to some degree why Obi-Wan couldn't bring himself to tell Luke this, especially not early on. And I don't need to rehash all the reasons why for Obi-Wan it was not even really a lie! Why he could weasel around with "from a certain point of view" and still look his ghost-self in the ghost-mirror. I mean, I can if you want me to! I'm happy to discuss Obi-Wan at any time! but I feel like it is, like, 93% irrelevant to this particular discussion, because once Luke was leaving for Bespin, it was CRUCIAL that he have all the facts going into that confrontation, and he didn't and it cost him dearly. It didn't even need to be Obi-Wan who told him! he could have kept on with his "I'm not mad I'm just disappointed" bit as Luke left if he really needed to for his own peace of mind.
But Yoda should have done it instead of being cryptic and discouraging, and while I'm not anti-Yoda as so many people are, I do think he made a huge mistake there, and did so willfully instead of genuinely. I think it shows on both their parts that they continued to misunderstand what drove Anakin Skywalker (despite, on Obi-Wan's part, knowing him really well) and also a real unwillingness to question their own worldviews despite having them upended so terribly. I mean, twenty years of meditating in the desert/the swamp over everything that went wrong (and no doubt with a side order of routine self-flagellation for Obi-Wan, at least), and it never occurred to either of them to think, well, Anakin never did anything the way we expected, so why should he be a Sith in the expected way? (and remember, he's not actually that great at being a Sith.)
5. "Leia is your sister." I mean, I guess he'd been alone in the desert for 19 years, so maybe it wouldn't have occurred to him that cute teenagers in adrenaline-fueled and dangerous situations might end up kissing and stuff! Especially when BOTH of them were Skywalkers. I mean, he knew Anakin met Padme when he was 9 and was like, "She's the one for me!" and ten years later, actually made it happen, so I don't know what he was thinking when he neglected to mention that the girl currently inspiring Luke to radical notions of overthrowing the Empire was none other than his sister. It would have at least avoided some awkward situations and the potential for a very different sort of family tragedy, anyway. ("One more date and we would've had a Greek tragedy on our hands." - Soapdish) I guess he was just really confident in Han Solo's charms to win the princess's heart in the end? *g*
Challenge #674 is wheel.
- All stories must be 100 words long.
- Please place your story behind a cut if it contains spoilers for the current season.
- Remember, you don't have to use the challenge word or phrase in your story; it's just there for inspiration.
- Please include the challenge word or phrase in the subject line of your post.
- Please use the challenge tag 674: wheel on any story posted to this challenge.
Embed from Getty Images
It was one of the most famous speeches ever made and led to two major pieces of Civil Rights legislation in the USA.
Yet, in issue 1277 of the Big Issue, author Philip Collins tells how Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream speech” on August 28th 1963 in The Mall, Washington DC, wasn’t planned as it happened.
Dr King had been speaking about his “dream” on several occasions around the country, prior to the big event when 250,000 piled into The Mall to watch a succession of speakers and singers, for whom Dr King provided the finale.
Philip Collins tells us:
When Dr King’s advisers gathered to help him write the speech they were all adamant on one thing – on no account was he to do the dream speech.
Instead, the speech had working titles such as “Normalcy, Never again” and “A cancelled check”. Indeed, Dr King explored the check (cheque) theme in the first few minutes of his speech, without exactly setting the audience alight:
It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.
Then as the audience became rather bored after long journies and a very hot day, gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, on stage behind Martin Luther King, whispered to him:
Tell ‘m about the dream, Martin.
So he went off on his dream riff, causing one of his team to mutter:
Aww shit, he’s doing the dream.
But the dream sequence fired up the audience and made history.
You can read Philip Collins’ article in issue 1277 of Big Issue. The article trails his new book “When They Go Low We Go High: Speeches that Shape the World and Why We Need Them“.
This post is another of our contributions for Black History Month.
Finally, here is that “Dream” speech in full:
* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is a councillor and one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.
1a) remove the month from the day heading, because of course I don't need to know what month a day is in (it does this even on the "month changes during the week" weeks, going from 31 (for October) to 1 (for November), whyyyyy)
2) make the time of day REALLY REALLY SMALL because of course I don't need to know what times things are
3) decide to get REALLY REALLY CONFUSED about how to handle dual calendar systems, even though it had no issue with that before
note: the "all day events" section is tall and mostly empty in the Old Google Calendar one because further on in the week, I have a lot of stacked all day things; that's my RL calendar. The new version is the fandom calendar, which has much fewer things cluttering it up
Old google calendar:
New google calendar:
Putting this behind a cut given the “Guy In Your Office Who Gives Weird Backrubs And Ends Every Sentence With ‘That’s What She Said’ Is Totally #IBelieveYou About Your #MeToo Social Media Posts” and “Pretty Much Every Movie You Loved In The 1990s Is Now Kinda Gross To Think About” week we’ve had.
Dear Captain Awkward,
I’m a lady who has been friends with this guy for about a decade. He moved away to a nearby city a few years ago for post doc work so most of our conversations are through WhatsApp and Skype. A couple times a year we’ll visit and sleep on each other’s couches. We’re both unattached hetero-ish opposite gendered folk, but I have talked about how I’m basically asexual and never looking for anyone and he’s looking for someone to marry and have babies with. So that’s been discussed while neatly avoiding the ‘I’m not into you like that’ more direct conversation. We have always just been normal friends who are friends. I really like hiking, and he’s one of my only friends who shares that hobby so it’s something we’ve also done a lot together. A decade. No issues.
We went on a weekend camping/hiking trip this summer, and on one of the days we trekked out to a beach that happened to be clothing optional. He asked me if I was OK with him being naked. I said that while I would rather be clothed myself, I didn’t mind in the context of our hanging out sunbathing and reading our respective books at a nude beach if he’d rather ‘run free’. Since then, he’s casually WhatsApp’d me a few articles that tangentially relate to nudism. It’s clearly on his mind. “Look-these Germans are totally fine with going to the sauna naked with co-workers!” Neat. “Hey, have you seen this BBC article about naked co-ed swimming pools in Poland? It’s nice they’re comfortable about perfectly natural human bodies.” Sure, that’s cool. “Isn’t it terrible how clothing is used as such a marker of class and social difference?” I guess that’s true. Why are we so weird about bodies? But also, I like my tyranny of clothing?
Then I went out for another visit. Crashed on the couch as ever. Everything perfectly non sexual. We talked philosophy, pop culture, politics, hiking, the usual. In the morning I was getting ready to leave and he came out of the shower while I was packing up. “Do you have the bus schedule?” I asked, and as he checked the times he just fully removed his towel-one-Mississippi-two-excruciating-
He moved apartments just after our trip, and I’d been asking to see what his new place looked like. “Give me the virtual tour!” I suggested. He WhatsApp’d back a five minute video. Wow, it does have great lighting! And there he is casually narrating how great the appliances are here and the closet space is there, and 4 minutes in, in full view of the mirrored closet doors but not looking at them, he’s just totally naked. Dick a swinging. OK, I thought. Plausible deniability… it was a heat wave. Maybe he wasn’t thinking about the mirrors? Maybe he was, and he’s just chill with the human body? I can’t be chill this way. But I said nothing. Pretended that wasn’t in there. “Love the counter-tops” I wrote.
A few weeks have gone by. Conversations on WhatsApp are normal. “Maybe we can do more camping and hiking next summer?” he asked. Maybe. A few days ago I sent him some photos of a new hiking bag I’d gotten. He’d been shopping too. “And on sale because it’s end of season!” declared the caption on a perfectly innocuous photo: a box of new hiking boots on his living room floor. I scrolled past it and replied “Those look way better than the old ones, how much?” And so it went. We move on to other topics. Politics. Hikes. OK, maybe I wouldn’t have to deal with this situation. Things are… fine? But going back through the photos today, I clicked on the boots image this time to see them better and there, in the now fully expanded view on my phone, was his dick. Just hanging out in the bottom corner of the image. NothingwrongwithbodiesbutcomeONadickisno
Lest I make you do the summarizing work yourself, here is a less full-picture but probably sufficient TLDR alternative:
Dear Captain Awkward,
I am a lady whose close decade long platonic friendship with a dude has taken an awkward turn. He lives out of town now, so we mostly communicate online with the odd visit to one another’s respective city. We both share a passion for hiking. We stopped by a clothing optional beach when hiking earlier in the year, and he asked if I was cool if he took advantage and let it all hang out whilst we sunbathed. I said that was fine, though I was gonna carry on wearing my clothes and enjoying my book. Since then he’s sent me a number of ‘isn’t nudism/naturism? great’ articles. OK, fine. What even are bodies anyway. The menace of class expression through clothing and the joy of non sexual naked bodies has been a recurring theme in his recent ‘check out this news link’ communication.
When I crashed at his place during my most recent visit, he let his towel slip for a moment too long after getting out of the shower, but I said nothing. A few weeks later he sent me a video tour of his new apartment where four minutes in he’s just casually and totally naked in the reflection of his mirrored closet doors. Just for a short few seconds. There was a heat wave. He’s maybe a nudist/naturist now? I was uncomfortable but pretended it didn’t happen. Now this week we exchanged innocuous ‘cool new hiking gear purchases!’ photos. But I realized upon expanding the shot of his hiking boots that his footwear was photo bombed by his dick. It’s autumn. There is no heat wave. Nudism surely does not equal what feels like stealth dick pics. WHAT DO?
Hi there! I included both the longer version and the TL;dr because you summed it up so well in both.
So, your friend is exploring nudism. Many people in the world are into that. There are clubs, days, events, hikes, bike rides, runs, online communities, resorts, and an entire Wikipedia page for “nude recreation.” Your friend can be free-falling and free-balling in the great outdoors as long as he a) finds like-minded people (i.e. not you) and b) he respects certain limits.
Speaking of limits, your friend is testing yours by repeatedly showing you his bathing suit area. He started with “accidentally-on-purpose” towel drops and escalated to “Oh hai, my apartment tour has some very special features!” Not cool. The chances that the hiking boots were accidentally photobombed by his junk approach .001%., though to be clear I don’t actually care if it was an accident.
We could spend a lot of time discussing his intentions, does he MEAN IT-mean it like, in a sexual way, or is it just part of his new lifestyle and he’s really comfortable with you vs. is he trying to be creepy/provocative, is it just a mistake where he thought because he asked you that one time that it’s okay forever, is it just that he’s too shy/socially awkward to ask you about it again (though somehow not too shy to do it). And, why stop at “shy/socially awkward” as descriptors? Why not dive into his entire psychological makeup and history for explanations so we can find a diagnosis that would make this somehow less his fault? Or, we could try to separate a clear pattern of behavior into totally unique isolated incidents that definitely do not have anything to do with each other and definitely do not have anything to do with gender or misogyny or culture. We could write it all off as probably “harmless,” we could discuss body positivity and why are people so weird about a little bit of nudity it’s not all sexual/why are we making it that way with our dirty minds and narrow-minded upbringing, are we some kind of prudes or something? We could do the 1,000 other absurd, exhausting mental and emotional gymnastics where we deep-dive into the intentions and feelings of men and try to find the most reasonable, gentle, benefit-of-the-doubt approach that won’t startle them or make them feel bad for even a second about the things they do to women.
I think there are two questions women can ask themselves when a man does something that creeps them out that are way better than “but did he MEAN IT-mean it”:
- Does he do this behavior to other men? Do his dad or his boss or his male buddy have to say “Whoa dude, consider the pants” when they chat with him?
- Do we think he’s doing even a tenth of the emotional labor in this situation that you are? 1/100th? 1/1000th?
This week has felt like a century. I don’t know about y’all but I’m done with doing this much work around men behaving badly.
Here are the facts:
1) Your friend repeatedly exposed himself to you.
2) You don’t like it and you want it to stop.
That’s enough. That’s enough to block him from your life if you want to without any further communication or work on your part. It’s enough to change whole story to “I had this really lovely friend for 10 years but then it got weird between us and we’re not friends anymore.”
It’s certainly enough to send him a text that says: “Can you make sure to put on clothes if we’re going to video-chat? Thanks.”
- “Can you make 100% sure that your penis doesn’t show up in photos you share with me, thanks.”
- “I’m glad you’re enjoying all that. I don’t really like reading or talking about it with you, so you should find someone else to send these articles to.”
- Also, while we’re talking, that hiking day at the clothing optional beach was a one-time thing for me, please opt for pants when we’re talking or hanging out in the future.”
- “I don’t like that.” = Good general script for unwanted nudes.
If your friend has sad or embarrassed feelings about what he’s done…okay? Good? He should feel some awkwardness about making his friend so uncomfortable? He should be the one writing to advice columnists right now about how he’s really into this new hobby and he’s afraid and uncomfortable about maybe fucking up a great friendship by getting carried away with it and constantly showing her his penis, so, how can he apologize and how can he make it right.
Honestly, if you tell him to knock this off, “I’m really sorry I made you uncomfortable” + STOPPING THE BEHAVIOR AND DROPPING THE SUBJECT IMMEDIATELY & FOREVER = is pretty much the only acceptable reaction from him. If he gives you an iota of pushback about this, your friendship is probably over. “Wait, did you think I was harassing you? I was just enthusiastic about my fun hobby!” = “Cool story. But now you know that I don’t like it, so, STAHP.”
If that pushback becomes about how this is all your fault somehow, like “But you said it was okay that day when we were hiking, it’s not fair for you to change the rules on me now” or “I didn’t think you were such a prude,” we’ve crossed over into friendship-is-over-with-extreme-
I’m so sorry, this sucks and none of it is your fault. Neither his penis nor his feelings are your work to manage.
Denuvo is probably the best digital-rights management system, used to protect computer games. It's regularly cracked within a day.
If Denuvo can no longer provide even a single full day of protection from cracks, though, that protection is going to look a lot less valuable to publishers. But that doesn't mean Denuvo will stay effectively useless forever. The company has updated its DRM protection methods with a number of "variants" since its rollout in 2014, and chatter in the cracking community indicates a revamped "version 5" will launch any day now. That might give publishers a little more breathing room where their games can exist uncracked and force the crackers back to the drawing board for another round of the never-ending DRM battle.
Related: Vice has a good history of DRM.
The fall of Raqqa this week completed the slow-motion demolition of the world’s only utopian movement worthy of the name. Like most utopian movements, the Islamic State was barbaric and iniquitous, precisely because it held its own refinement and egalitarianism in such high regard. Assume eventual absolution by history or God, and anything goes in the meantime.
The pleasure of dancing on the Islamic State’s grave should not be denied, even if it is true, as experts remind us, that its zombified hand might yet emerge from the earth to grab our ankles as we do so. Having lost Raqqa (and before it Hawija, Tal Afar, and Mosul), it now still holds border areas between Iraq and Syria, plus isolated territory in Libya, Sinai, Afghanistan, and the southern Philippines. What it no longer controls is territory from which it can make its most important claim—that it has built a paradise on earth, where God’s law is the only law, and Muslims can live lives that fully express their faith. It once boasted that women, children, and the elderly could live full and happy lives in Raqqa. Now an invitation to hijra—migration to Islamic State territory—is simply an invitation to die quickly on the field of battle.
What hasn’t received much attention, amid the celebration, is the manner in which that death has been dealt. In May, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the war against the Islamic State had shifted from a war of attrition (slip their heads into a noose, then squeeze) to a war of “annihilation” and “humiliation.” He has kept his word. Although many Islamic State fighters have surrendered—sometimes in humiliating fashion—almost all are Syrians and Iraqis who joined the group pragmatically, and not members of the 40,000-strong contingent of foreign fighters who migrated in the supposed path of God. We haven’t yet heard stories of mass surrender by foreign fighters. One American Islamic State fighter is in custody, out of well over a hundred known to have traveled to the battlefield. The desert plains of eastern Syria are strewn with the corpses of most of the others, I suspect, along with French, Tunisian, and Chechen colleagues.
It’s worth reflecting on how foreign a “war of annihilation” is to the modern American way of war. Every war includes targets who are assumed to require extermination, who will not or should not be taken alive. But a war in which most of the enemy is considered beyond any possible surrender or political solution, and must be killed to the last man, is an extraordinary thing, unexampled in American history since the Indian Wars. There will be no ceremony on the USS Missouri, in which an envoy of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi signs an instrument of surrender.
Instead the coalition seems to prefer that no one make it back alive. French Defense Minister Florence Parly admitted as much this weekend. “If jihadists die in the fighting, then I’d say it’s for the best,” she said. Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union counterterrorism czar, told The Wall Street Journal that he expects the roach-motel model of the Islamic State to be the right one: Most of those who go there won’t come back. “The vast majority would rather die fighting or seek to stay inside Syria.”
The Islamic State’s foreign fighters chose this end, so if the annihilation of human beings troubles you, take it up with them first and Mattis second. Irrespective of scruples, though, keep in mind the practical effects of this kind of war. If war is hell, this is its ninth circle, the circle of treachery. Watch this video of Islamic State fighters purporting to surrender to Kurdish fighters, then detonating suicide belts as they get close. (The Kurds aren’t hurt. The video is not graphic, but skip it if you don’t want to watch Islamic State fighters disappear in a puff of smoke.) It is little wonder, then, that the easy solution, it seems, has been to bomb Raqqa and kill the remaining resistance rather than wait for proof of its good intentions.
The cost of this type of fighting is the same cost exacted by the Islamic State in nearly every other city from which it has been dislodged: It leaves behind not a city but a pile of rubble. The citizens of that pile of rubble are left to wonder whether its total destruction was preferable to continued rule by the Islamic State, crucifixions and beheadings included. The Kurdish-led, U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces have taken Raqqa (and, in a show of idiocy or tone-deafness, placed a large photo of the Leninist Kurdish icon Abdullah Ocalan in its main roundabout). The Islamic State, to the extent that it survives, is falling back—betting that the SDF will fail to govern its prize in a way that will please its surviving residents. And the war of annihilation that allowed the SDF to take Raqqa will make it all but impossible to keep free and stable for long.
Rescuing Migrants from a Couch in Galicia
Gregory Beals | Foreign Policy
“Over the past four years, De Andrés says she has built a network of about 3,000 refugees and volunteers without ever leaving her hometown of Vigo. She calls it “Red Alert”—a play on red, the Spanish word for net or network.
De Andrés is not a trained aid worker, but her collaborative efforts to track people attempting to cross the eastern Aegean have helped shine a light on urgent cases, providing assistance to those in need. Proactiva Open Arms, the Spanish lifeguard NGO that has plucked thousands of refugees from rubber rafts in the eastern Aegean and the Mediterranean Sea, credits her with having saved many lives.”
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Water, Water, Everywhere
Allie Wist | Roads & Kingdoms
“The most popular beverage on Isla Grande is Kola Román. Created in 1865 by Carlos Román Polanco, the signature electric-red liquid is found in every store and is even used in classic Colombian dishes like platanos ententación–plantains simmered in a sauce made from cola and cloves. Another classic soda, Inca Kola, has a champagne-like color and tastes like overly sweet bubblegum.
Isla Grande is a resort destination. Bottled water is shipped to the island, but the cost is astronomically higher than soda and most of it goes to the hotels—12 in total—and to the daily tour groups that come from Cartagena. The water locals do receive, which is pumped into underground wells, is usually labelled as non-potable and must be boiled before consumption. Residents line up with battered jerry cans to buy into the cash pool that pays for their water allotment.”
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North Korea Is No Longer the Hermit Kingdom—but How Long Will China Be Its Lifeline?
Brook Larmer | The New York Times
“The West can’t seem to shake the image of North Korea as the Hermit Kingdom. Diplomatically and culturally, the place is indeed isolated, and its state ideology of juche, or self-reliance, reinforces the feeling that North Korea is going it alone. But the country is not cut off economically, at least not yet. Over the past decade, as the Kims père and fils pursued their nuclear program, North Korea’s external trade boomed, more than doubling in volume. Economists believe that the country’s trade dependency has risen to higher than 50 percent, just shy of the global average.”
A New Chapter for the Disastrous United Nations Mission in Haiti?
Edwidge Danticat | New Yorker
“I spent the first twelve years of my life in an impoverished neighborhood in Port-au-Prince called Bel Air, where many Aristide supporters live. My 81 year-old uncle, a minister, had called this neighborhood home since the 1950s, and was there on September 30, 2004, when protests began on the 13th anniversary of the first coup d’état. In response, the Haitian national police and minustah soldiers conducted joint raids in Bel Air that led to dozens of mostly unreported injuries and deaths. The following month, UN soldiers and Haitian riot police climbed up to the roof of my uncle’s church and killed some of his neighbors below. My uncle was forced to flee to Miami, where he died in the custody of U.S. immigration officials after being denied asylum.”
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Doctor and Advocate: One Surgeon’s Global Fight for the Rights of Rape Survivors
Fabíola Ortiz and Megan Clement | Pacific Standard
“Dr. Denis Mukwege opened his hospital because he wanted to bring down maternal mortality in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. But the first case he saw was a survivor of gang rape.
Mukwege, a gynecological surgeon, says he remembers the case clearly. ‘It was a woman who had been raped by many people, and her genitals were torn. She arrived with very, very serious injuries.’
After that first operation in September of 1999, he saw more and more victims of extreme sexual violence come through Panzi Hospital's doors. He says his team operated on 45 women in the first three months.
‘I had the impression that this was an enormous number, because I’d been in the region for a few years, and I’d never seen this before,’ he says. ‘It wasn’t until 2000 that I understood that this was normal, and I began to call on the international community.’
Today, Mukwege, 62, is renowned as a pioneer in the field of gynecological surgery, and there is growing awareness worldwide that rape is used as a weapon of war in conflict.”