Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Cypress Trees

House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle EastHouse of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East by Anthony Shadid

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is told in two concurrent parts:  Anthony Shadid's family history as shaped by the Levant and the emigration to America, and his restoration of his family's home in Lebanon, also in the context of the disappearance of the Levant and the rise of the troubles of the Middle East.  I enjoyed the story of his family more than the repetition and trials of the difficulties of renovation.  I appreciated the importance of the restoration to him and the arc of the story, but it needed further editing.  This book is most important now as a testament the the loss and absence of this remarkable reporter, so young in his years.  There is a creepy foreshadowing in his restoration:  he was warned not to plant the cypress trees so close to his home, they were trees meant for a cemetery:  doing so meant an early death.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The San Andreas Fault

It is very strange to visit the San Andreas Fault.  I blogged about this last year upon seeing it from above at Joshua Tree National Park.  Here is a photo seen from there:

The two photos below show the Fault at ground level in the Coachella Valley Preserve:  those butte-like formations in the foreground is the Fault

Monday, March 5, 2012

Overlords and the Underworld

Interesting commentary in Sunday's New York Times about the leader of North Korea and his family: while the people of North Korea starve, the members of the Kim family have been acting like mafia dons:  they have put millions into criminal enterprises.

There have also been both print and radio reports about the increase in criminal activity regarding endangered wildlife species.  As more Chinese get wealthier, the demand for elephant tusks, rhino horns, etc as gone up exponentially.  The access to poachers has been facilitated by the large numbers of Chinese working in Africa on resource and infrastructure projects.