Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Outrage: Rape Reporting from Monrovia and Iran

My energy is back. I felt so blessed – today I started my photo albums. I had it all organized, but just couldn’t make myself DO it. Today was a new day, woke up at a reasonable hour with energy! Alhamdallah!

Back in my workshop, Qatteri Cat helping, BBC on to keep me company . . . and two separate reports come on BBC News (radio). I can sit, or I can share my outrage with you. Here I am . . .

The report from Monrovia is about the continuous rape of children, even infants under one year. They are only now documenting it is happening, and to what extent. Before, it was deny, deny, deny.

Here is a direct quote from the program: “Rape is so entrenched in the society.” They haven’t begun to study WHY it is happening, only documenting that it IS happening. To children, the weakest, least powerful segment of society. And in other African countries, societal studies have shown that there is a belief that having sex with virgins, uncontaminated, can cure AIDS. So ignorant. So selfish. And as the virgins become fewer, the victims get younger. Who would rape an infant? Who would be so desperate and so depraved? It makes me shake, it makes me so angry, this violation of the most innocent.

The second case is about an Iranian woman, Norouzi, who killed a man who was attempting to rape her. Convicted of murder, and given the death penalty, the court said she had used “too much force” in defending herself.

So, in your experience, what happens if you defend yourself but leave your attacker still capable? Your self-defense only makes him/her more angry, more lethal, and raises your probability of ending up dead yourself. Hmmmmm. . . . experience rape and likely death, or kill my attacker?? I know, in a heartbeat, which I would choose.

The family has forgiven her IF she pays the blood money of nearly $63,000 dollars. Pay $63,000 for the SCUM that tried to rape her??

Share my outrage. You can read the entire story on the BBC website, here.

A quote from this newsarticle:

Women’s rights activist and lawyer Sara Irani told The Associated Press news agency she welcomed the resolution of the case.

“Norouzi’s freedom will give new breath to women to find the courage to stand up for their rights and defend themselves,” she said.

In Iran, a married woman who is raped risks the death penalty for adultery if she cannot prove she was violated.

If she kills her attacker, she may also face the death sentence for murder.

You may wonder why I tag this a political issue. Politics is all about power. This woman, and these children are victims because 1) they are physically weaker than their attackers and 2) their attackers don’t believe there will be any repercussions; they believe they are entitled to what they take and that there will be no penalty. It’s about power. It’s political until there are laws strong enough to protect the weak and innocent against their attackers, and those laws are enforced.

January 16, 2007 Posted by | Africa, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Health Issues, Living Conditions, Middle East, Political Issues, Social Issues, Spiritual, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

Search Engine Terms Challenge

Little Diamond, now en route to her home in Beirut, posted yesterday on blog search terms and her mystification at how some people end up on her blogsite when what they are really looking for is something else entirely.

I have found the same experience. I think the search engines must scan words, and no matter that they are in posts months apart, maybe even years apart, if you have written enough, your post may qualify. For example, if in November, you wrote a diatribe against porn, and in January you wrote an entry about stars you can see in the evening sky, then someone looking for “porn” and “star” is going to end up on your blog (equally mystified!)

So here is my challenge. Take a look at your statistics and tell us what terms people used to find your blog today (or yesterday.) To start off, I will share mine:

+wordpress +snap
choosing a wife
what are the political issues in france
do i have to refrigerate leftover peca
“how do feeds work”
here there and everywhere
my+way+hemingway+tshirt
wherever you go
sugar cookies evaporated milk cream of t
good pirates
Spicy Foods Kill Cancer
Sadu House
divinity candy
rosette irons history
locard\’s exchange principal and its imp
tunisia love marriage
Larry Steward – secret santa
milton on freedom of thought
Zoe Oldenburg Ansiau et
Zambia expats life
african lion poop

Of course, my hands down favorite is the last one! Check your search engine terms, and post here in comments or on your blog. It’s a dull rainy day – let’s have some fun!

January 16, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Communication, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Kuwait, Random Musings, Weather | 5 Comments

Three Turtles

My husband called; he leaves for work early. He saw THREE cars “turned turtle”* on his way to work. One was a huge water tanker that had been hit by an SUV; he said he can’t imagine anyone getting out alive.

The roads are wet and slick. Not matter that Kuwait gets ample rain in the rainy season, there are months and months worth of accumulated grease and oil on the highways, and people who don’t take the weather conditions into account.

Be careful out there. Please, please, slow down. Buckle up. And please, tell your children that the car doesn’t go unless they are buckled up, too. Please. Keep them safe. We know you are being careful. . . but there are others who are not.

*”Turned turtle” is what they say when a car ends up upside down.

January 16, 2007 Posted by | Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Health Issues, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Weather | 5 Comments

Unexpected Pleasure

As I was leaving Seattle, my niece, Little Diamond, passed a book along to me. It’s part of our family culture – we read, and we pass along.

When my son was in university, I remember him telling me that I had addicted him to books. His first memory of books was living in Tunis, and when we would be going on a long trip, or when he had done something particularly good, I would pull down a new book from the shelf high up in my closet. Knowing he was approaching reading age, I had stocked up on books before we left.

As a student, he told me that as he approached final exams at university, he would motivate himself by telling himself that as soon as his last final was over, he could go to the bookstore and buy whatever the newest book out was that he was eager to read. Reading – for fun – during his school breaks was his great reward.

It’s that way for all of us. Before any trip, we stock up on good books to read. Before I left Seattle, I stocked up books for my Mother to read! We seek out places like Half Price Books (I do NOT own stock in Half Price Books) and Amazon.com to feed our habits. In our concern against running out of good books, we all have piles by our bed of books we intend to read. Some of my books have been there almost a year – since I moved to Kuwait!

So I accepted the book, Snake Hips: Belly Dancing and How I Found True Love, although I looked at the cover in dismay, and actually took it off for the trip. It’s about a Lebanese-American girl who goes in search of her ethnic roots. While at first I didn’t like her, I kept reading in spite of myself – the book drew me in. Little Diamond reviews the book here, (as well as several others that sound really good.)

This book was an unexpected pleasure – as are many of the books my book-voracious niece reads. The main character in this book has an unexpected wryly objective view of herself, is painfully honest, and you find yourself hoping she will find herself, and true love, in spite of her clumsy attempts.

January 15, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Books, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Friends & Friendship, Generational, Poetry/Literature, Relationships, Women's Issues | Leave a comment

Blog Stats

Back in November and December, when I published all those Thanksgiving and Christmas recipes, magic happened. All of a sudden, the blog was getting 500 – 600+ hits a day. I watched in amazement. The two top posts were Mom’s Fruitcake Recipe and Divinity Candy. The Divinity recipe still gets about 3 hits a day. Go figure. I only started collecting recipes when I discovered I wasn’t a great cook, and needed some fail-safe recipes to protect myself. Life is funny that way.

The rational side of my brain knew it was temporary, sort of like being a rock-star; you know it is an aberration, you know it can’t last forever, and you can’t help but love it. I was addicted. I would look at those blog stats in sheer wonder.

It all came to a screeching halt the day after Christmas. Oh, yeh, a few loyal fans kept the stats up until New Year’s, but the drop after Christmas was dramatic – like 300 people a day. Running the recipes did attract a good number of regular readers who continue reading, but nothing like before Christmas.

WordPress has these great charts for displaying blog hits, feeds, readers, even daily hits on individual articles. Until January 25th, I am stuck with a statistics chart that shows a huge readership to the left, and a dribble to the right. I am eager to have the chart entirely normal once again so I can keep things in perspective.

We all have our own reasons for blogging. One of mine is to put down in writing some records of things I see, think about, hear, my reactions to events. I don’t want to care about statistics, they are irrelevant, maybe even detrimental to my purpose. . . .but I do.

How about you? do you check your statistics? Do you follow who is reading your blog? Where readership is coming from? Is this a good or bad thing? Does it interfere with your purpose in blogging?

January 15, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Communication, Random Musings, Recipes | 10 Comments

Google Earth Hurts American Forces in Iraq?

This morning on the front page of the Kuwait Times is a story about American forces in Iraq finding GoogleEarth print outs of American bases and strongholds, so clear that those targeting these sites can see the difference between tents and barracks, and can get the exact longitude and latitude for targeting purposes.

Information is always a double edged sword. Information is information, in and of itself, it is neutral. How information is used makes it useful or harmful. And “useful” or “harmful” depends totally on where you stand.

So what do you think? Do you try to censor GoogleEarth when it hurts your side, and oppose censorship when it works to your advantage? Or do you say “hands off” and let the information serve all people equally?

January 14, 2007 Posted by | Counter-terrorism, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Geography / Maps, Kuwait, Living Conditions, Locard Exchange Principal, Middle East, News | 9 Comments

WordPress Snap Feature

Yesterday I noticed a cool new thing on my blogsite; when your arrow goes over the blogroll on the right, Snap provides a small window-preview of the blogroll entry. Very very cool!

I don’t know if you have to be on WordPress for it to work? Would someone out there not on WordPress try the Snap preview feature and let me know if it works for non WordPress users?

January 14, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, Blogroll, News | 7 Comments

The Onion Satire

In her blog, my niece, Little Diamond, posted a recent article (satire) from The Onion. Titled 800,000 Privileged Youth Sign Up to Fight In Iraq, you can read it here.

The Onion isn’t really news. It’s a poke at the news. It’s one of the funniest websites I visit.

January 13, 2007 Posted by | Blogging, News, Political Issues, Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Horror Movies: Night of the Living Dead

I used to love horror movies. At university, we would gather together late at night and watch the scariest movies we could find. I slept great. None of them really influenced me, none of them frightened me. Or . . . if they did, I guess I liked it.

And then a friend told me to go see The Night of the Living Dead. The Night of the Living Dead is a horror-genre cult movie, by George Romero. It was a low budget movie, filmed (if I remember correctly) in black and white. It wasn’t a smooth film, it had a lot of the same pseudo-authenticity of The Blair Witch Project, shot years later with hand held cameras.

48m.jpg

It was a shocking movie. It crossed a lot of boundaries. While compared to the violence of Tarantino, it might appear mild, it was gruesome for its time. Woven through the movie were what we now call “issues.” Black/white issues, marital issues, death taboo issues, subtle incestuous references.

You may never have heard of it, but years after it was made, there were making sequels – Night of the Living Dead 2, Return of the Living Dead, etc. The movie has been re-done, I hear, I have never seen another.

Night of the Living Dead was too real for me. It’s related to Training Joke #2 which really isn’t very funny if you read it closely. it describes a world of “me first” when facing an enemy with whom you cannot reason. It’s supposed to illustrate the benefits of maintaining a low profile when living or working in a country where you may face hostility, but what makes it “funny” is the unexpected treacherousness of one friend to another.

And, as the bear in the training joke, the zombies were not malicious, they were just hungry. You can’t charm them out of their hunger, you can’t intimidate them. They have no compassion, no pity, no feelings whatsoever. Just hunger, a driving hunger, for flesh.

The zombies in Night of the Living Dead were occasionally known by the non-dead humans. Survival was based on recognizing that the zombie was no longer the person they had once known and loved – getting away, or killing the zombie, overcoming the emotions wrapped up in the person the zombie had been before death and re-activation.

One of the things I like about the movie is that they never really adequately explain how this all happened. There is speculation, and there is dealing with the immediate problem, but there is no real resolution as to cause. Just like real life, where we scramble to deal with things, but often, even years later, fail to understand what we were really dealing with.

And I have met a human zombie or two. No, they are not undead, but neither are they really living. About as close to emotion as they come is a curiousity about why feeling people feel as we do, and a mild niggling feeling that they might be missing something. If they are psychopathic, they can appear to be normal, but underneath is a great void. They know who they are. Sometimes, in an effort to feel, they inflict pain, the way a cat will toy with a mouse before killing and eating it. And, just as you can’t blame a cat for being a cat, I think these people are born that way, and can’t take responsibility for what they are – or are not. Scary people. Stay away, far far away.

January 13, 2007 Posted by | Family Issues, Living Conditions, Political Issues, Random Musings, Relationships, Social Issues, Spiritual | 2 Comments

Blame it on the Rain

(I apologize to Milli Vanilli, whose music and look I really liked, even though they were totally frauds.)

I thought I had it beat. I am getting about six hours of sleep a night, pretty normal, not bad. But . . . wide awake around four every morning – four if I am lucky, 3, 3:30 sometimes. So up at 4 this morning, do you know how quiet it is in Kuwait at four in the morning? Its like quiet-squared. Stopped by the French bakery for some goodies, spent time with a good friend from 8 – 10, we had intended to walk but too much rain! We explored photo management and uploads for a while and then I headed home.

I didn’t intend to nap. The Qatteri Cat got cozy and the next thing I knew . . . I had slept from noon to 4:30, slept like a dead person. Of course now I am WIDE AWAKE. I can’t imagine how I will sleep tonight. When will this end, when will I be back on local time??

January 12, 2007 Posted by | ExPat Life, Family Issues, Travel, Weather | 9 Comments