Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Survival International is imperilled

Survival International advocates for the rights and freedoms of Aboriginal peoples around the world.  Their website has been hacked ever since they have campaigned vociferously on behalf of the Bushmen of Botwsana.  Please support their efforts.

Khans & The Royal Exchange

Julie Flavell has written a book titled When London Was Capital of America.  One of the illustrations is a print by Thomas Malton of  The Royal Exchange in 1798.  The illustrations I have below are by different artists, but show the same detail.  What struck me most, was how much The Royal Exchange resembled  the Khans we saw in Syria.  Queen Elizabeth I decided that merchants and traders should have a place other than coffee shops to do business, so the first Exchange was opened in 1551.  Khans had been in use throughout the Ottoman Empire long before that.  I am curious to know if the architect of The Royal Exchange had seen sketches of the khans brought back to Britain by traveling traders.

The Royal Exchange
The Royal Exchange

A Khan, Aleppo

Khan off the souk, Damascus

Monday, October 25, 2010

Trouble Brewing in the Balkans?

Veteran NPR European Desk reporter, Sylvia Poggioli, filed a story on the rise of radical/political Islam in the Balkans. After the war that broke up Jugoslavia in the 1990's, the Saudi's contributed a massive amount of aid to the reconstruction of Kosovo and Bosnia, especially the construction of new mosques.  These construction projects have employed large numbers of people,who had been unemployed a very long time:  the unemployment rate in Kosovo is over 40%.  There has been strong local concern and outcry about this invasion of the Saudis, especially with the rise in the number of women in veils.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bringing out your inner Barbie

A fashion article in this weekend's FT Weekend explains the new (for the moment) fashion statement embraced by Michelle Obama and MadMen coquettes: the hour-glass look.  I loved this sentence: "Part of the reason for the prevalence of the hourglass shape is surgical: the extreme body reconstruction many women have been undergoing, with breast and bottom augmentation, alongside hours of Pilates and yoga, has created a figure as contrived and Barbie-like as bullet bras and waist cinchers (or “waspies”) did 60 years ago".  Here is a photo of said fashions from the FT article

Check out the latest in Barbie fashions here

Friday, October 22, 2010

More news of the ancients.....

The New York Times this week reported on more new news about our ancestors: evidence of grinding stones, hot-stone baking and root flour grains found in Italy, the Czech Republic, and Russia.  More articles in NYT about findings from The National Academy of Sciences, where this information was published, can be found at this link.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Only the Italians would dare say it this way.....

Washington Post story covered in The Seattle Times about the Italians getting tough with the Roma.  A Milanese politician is quoted as saying  "These are dark-skinned people, not Europeans like you and me," said Riccardo De Corato, who is Milan's vice mayor from Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's ruling party and who is in charge of handling the camps. He later added: "Our final goal is to have zero Gypsy camps in Milan".  I remember when the Italians were described as "swarthy" and not really considered "white" by the racist Apartheid regime in South Africa, only four decades ago....

Monday, October 11, 2010

Yakima Valley Wine Country

Washington State is the home of over 650 winerieseleven AVA's or designated appellations, and 350 grape growers.  The Yakima Valley was the first federally recognised AVA.  The Yakima Valley is also home to the Yakama Nation.  This last weekend, I accompanied the wine maker/owner of :Nota Bene to the Yakima Valley to pick up bins filled with grapes-just-picked and drop off bins for grapes-to-be-picked and also for bins ready for next year.  We drove 700 miles, fourteen hours, six vineyards, and brought back 12 bins of beautiful grapes (this was trip three for wine maker Tim Narby; three left to go!).  The vineyards we visited were: Stone Tree Vineyards, Stillwater Vineyards, Ciel du Cheval, Champoux, Dineen Family Vineyards, and Red Willow Vineyards.
                                         View from Stillwater picnic area

                                  Champoux Vineyard:  netting to keep birds away

                                          Ciel du Cheval, stop # 3, loading the grapes

Boxes ready for filling.  Champoux Vineyards

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

A True Hero: A Man Who Died in the Cause of Seeking Truth & Information

On 18 September 2010 I posted a link on Facebook about a story NPR ran about Witold Pilecki, a Polish Army Captain:  "In September 1940, Pilecki didn't know exactly what was going on in Auschwitz, but he knew someone had to find out. He would spend two and a half years in the prison camp, smuggling out word of the methods of execution and interrogation. He would eventually escape and author the first intelligence report on the camp."  He sent this information to Churchill and Roosevelt and the Polish Army in exile tried every means at its disposal to tell the world about the Holocaust.  Take time to learn about this man.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Roma, again

PRI's The World reported on efforts to reintegrate the Roma into Bulgarian society.  This link should get to an audio of the report.  The question remains/arises:  what is  it about Europe (east or west) or elsewhere that the Roma  create this tension and inability for one group to be accepted by another.  This situation has been intractable for over 1000 years. A second Wikipedia link has some interesting information on the arrival of Roma people in North America in the early 19th century.