HERE'S MY LATEST BOOK.....
This is a book of short stories taken from the things I saw and heard in my childhood in the factory town of Ansonia in southwestern Connecticut.
Most of these stories, or as true as I recall them because I witnessed these events many years ago through the eyes of child and are retold to you now with the pen and hindsight of an older man. The only exception is the story Beat Time which is based on the disappearance of Beat poet Lew Welch. Decades before I knew who Welch was, I was told that he had made his from California to New Haven, Connecticut, where was an alcoholic living in a mission. The notion fascinated me and I filed it away but never forgot it.
The collected stories are loosely modeled around Joyce’s novel, Dubliners (I also borrowed from the novels character and place names. Ivy Day, my character in “Local Orphan is Hero” is also the name of chapter in Dubliners, etc.) and like Joyce I wanted to write about my people, the people I knew as a child, the working class in small town America and I wanted to give a complete view of them as well. As a result the stories are about the divorced, Gays, black people, the working poor, the middle class, the lost and the found, the contented and the discontented.
Conversely many of the stories in this book are about starting life over again as a result of suicide (The Hanging Party, Small Town Tragedy, Beat Time) or from a near death experience (Anna Bell Lee and the Charge of the Light Brigade, A Brief Summer) and natural occurring death. (The Best Laid Plans, The Winter Years, Balanced and Serene)
With the exception of Jesus Loves Shaqunda, in each story there is a rebirth from the death. (Shaqunda is reported as having died of pneumonia in The Winter Years)
Sal, the desperate and depressed divorcee in Things Change, changes his life in Lunch Hour when asks the waitress for a date and she accepts. (Which we learn in Closing Time, the last story in the book) In The Arranged Time, Thisby is given the option of change and whether she takes it or, we don’t know. The death of Greta’s husband in A Matter of Time has led her to the diner and into the waiting arms of the outgoing and lovable Gabe.
Although the book is based on three sets of time (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and the diner is opened in the early morning and closed at night, time stands still inside the Diner. The hour on the big clock on the wall never changes time and much like my memories of that place, everything remains the same.
ILLUSTRATIONS FROM THE BOOK
Sculpture this and Sculpture that
DON’T WORRY-BE HAPPY
The unbearable loneliness of creative work
By Ruth Graham GLOBE CORRESPONDENT
CREATIVE GENIUSES SEEM to be imbeciles when it comes to relationships. Think of Lord Byron’s disastrous love life, or Ernest Hemingway and his four wives. Of the many complex reasons for their troubles, it’s easy to assume there’s also just something about being a great thinker that corresponds to being a bad partner.
But a paper forthcoming in the Academy of Management Journal suggests an alternative explanation: People who exercise unbounded creativity on the job, it seems, spend less time with their spouses at home, and the time they do spend with their spouses is of lower quality. An associate professor of management and organizing at Boston College, Spencer Harrison, and his coauthor conclude that workers who spend the day doing things like generating new ideas have fewer cognitive resources left by the time they get home.
In other words, it’s not that creative people are simply hopeless at relationships — or at least it’s not only that. “When you read the big headlines about creativity, it’s touted as the golden key to success for businesses, whether it’s small entrepreneurial ventures or the big behemoths,” Harrison said. “But there’s a cost, and the cost is that because you’re so infatuated by the limitless potential or ideas at the beginning of development . . . you’ve chewed up a lot of brain space.”
Organizational researchers have long been interested in studying creativity. In the early 19th century, they focused largely on lone geniuses, trying to puzzle out the alchemy that produced Mozart or Michelangelo. It’s only been in the last few decades that academics have turned their interest toward how more ordinary creativity operates in group settings.
So far, there’s been much more research into the factors that produce creativity than on what Harrison calls its downstream effects. But with the recent renewed attention to work-life balance for both men and women, those effects are worth paying attention to. “Organizations have become really good at capturing the positive benefits of creativity at work and offloading the negative effects on families and relationships,” Harrison said.
In the new study, Harrison and his coauthor surveyed 108 workers and their spouses daily for up to 10 days. Workers were asked about the tasks they performed during the day, while spouses reported how much time they spent together that day. Workers completed surveys twice a day, and their spouses every evening. The surveys went beyond just the job description, to include a log of daily tasks. Creative workers aren’t creative all the time — there are still expense reports to file and other noncreative tasks that fill working hours during the week. The study allowed researchers to get a fuller picture of what time was actually spent on creative tasks and how that correlated with behavior at home.
Sure enough, the more the employee had been involved in generating new creative ideas on the job, the less time he spent at home. This applies not only to stereotypical white-collar cool-kid work, like editing a fashion magazine, but to anyone who uses broadly creative skills such as identifying problems or generating solutions. Harrison’s study, which cites Richard Florida’s research that identifies about third of all workers as creative in some capacity, tapped employees in industries including sales, construction, and education.
Results like this upend the way many people glamorize creativity as a purely positive, energizing force. In popular culture, creative workers are lionized: Steve Jobs, who is arguably the most prominent contemporary icon of corporate creativity, is soon to be the subject of the second movie in three years. In some academic research, too, creativity has been viewed as an almost purely positive force, particularly for the employers who harness it.
Yet creative workers often have a hard time in their careers. Burnout and frustration are big issues. In a 2013 study of designers at a toy company, more of the subjects who identified as artists left the company within three years. “There’s something to be said for the antagonism when you have someone whose ideas might be seen as far out,” said the study’s author, an associate dean and professor of organizational leadership at the University of California Davis Graduate School of Management, Kimberly Elsbach. “But so far I haven’t seen a good idea for keeping these people in large organizations.” In the case of the toy company, some of the ex-employees went on to become consultants, which means the company might get access to big ideas but miss out on the kind of casual innovation that sparks around a creative person in the office full time.
Harrison’s research suggests one solution, and it’s a deceptively simple one. Before a creative worker heads home, provide feedback that limits future choices and helps narrow options going forward. It could be as simple as saying, “Ideas A and B are good options, but C and D are probably not going to work.” It flies against the “no bad ideas” ethos of brainstorming. But “idea validation,” as Harrison calls it, provides some resolution for all those free-floating sparks and helps creative types mentally leave their work at the office.
For big thinkers, criticism and imposed limitations don’t always feel good. As Harrison puts it, “No one likes feedback.” But if both employers and employees knew that feedback was one key to a happier home life, it might look a lot more appealing.
Ruth Graham, a writer in New Hampshire, is a regular contributor to Ideas.
Here's some words from Emerson
Words so vascular and alive they would bleed if you cut them words that walked and ran.
The triumphs of peace have been in some proximity to war. Whilst the hand was still familiar with the sword-hilt whilst the habits of the camp were still visible in the port and complexion of the gentleman his intellectual power culminated; the compression and tension of these stern conditions is a training for the finest and softest arts and can rarely be compensated in tranquil times except by some analogous vigor drawn from occupations as hardy as war.
It is One of the most beautiful compensations in life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
Want is a growing giant whom the coat of Have was never large enough to cover.
Our strength grows out of our weakness.
The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.
The first wealth is health.
Without a rich heart wealth is an ugly beggar.
“Love is a temporary madness, it erupts like volcanoes and then subsides. And when it subsides, you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion, it is not the desire to mate every second minute of the day, it is not lying awake at night imagining that he is kissing every cranny of your body. No, don’t blush, I am telling you some truths. That is just being “in love”, which any fool can do. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.” Louis de Bernières
“Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.” C.S. Lewis
“Sometimes love means letting go when you want to hold on tighter.” Melissa Marr
“The heart has its reasons which reason knows not.” Blaise Pascal
“Anyone who falls in love is searching for the missing pieces of themselves. So anyone who’s in love gets sad when they think of their lover. It’s like stepping back inside a room you have fond memories of, one you haven’t seen in a long time.” Haruki Murakami
“I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me, ‘I love you.’ There is an African saying which is: Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt.” Maya Angelou
“For the two of us, home isn’t a place. It is a person. And we are finally home.” Stephanie Perkins
“Love is a decision, it is a judgment, it is a promise. If love were only a feeling, there would be no basis for the promise to love each other forever. A feeling comes and it may go. How can I judge that it will stay forever, when my act does not involve judgment and decision.” Erich Fromm
HERE'S PLEASANT POEM FOR YOU TO ENJOY................
By John Updike
And another regrettable thing about death
is the ceasing of your own brand of magic,
which took a whole life to develop and market --
the quips, the witticisms, the slant
adjusted to a few, those loved ones nearest
the lip of the stage, their soft faces blanched
in the footlight glow, their laughter close to tears,
their tears confused with their diamond earrings,
their warm pooled breath in and out with your heartbeat,
their response and your performance twinned.
The jokes over the phone. The memories
packed in the rapid-access file. The whole act.
Who will do it again? That's it: no one;
imitators and descendants aren't the same.
DON'T YOU JUST YOU LOVE POP ART?
Film Snob? Is That So Wrong?
By A. O. SCOTT
Before exploring the possible answers — Mais non! Good riddance! Who cares? — we should perhaps define our terms. The word “snob” has a contested etymology and an interestingly tangled set of uses. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (no second-rate sources here; what do you take me for?), it originated in the 18th century as a term for a shoemaker. For much of the 19th century, it was used to refer to persons of “no breeding.” According to the Oxford website, “in time the word came to describe someone with an exaggerated respect for high social position or wealth who looks down on those regarded as socially inferior.” A pretender. A poser. A wannabe. An arriviste.
Urban Dictionary helpfully cites Paris Hilton and the Olsen twins as examples, which may be evidence of how trivial the idea of snobbery has become in 21st-century America. In this country, the meaning that has long dominated has to do less with wealth or station than with taste, and the word’s trajectory has almost completely reversed. Americans are in general a little squeamish about money and class — worshiping one while pretending the other doesn’t exist — and more comfortable with hierarchies and distinctions that seem strictly cultural. A snob over here is someone who looks contemptuously down, convinced above all of his or her elevated powers of discernment.
Of course, we all know people like that. There is a rich tradition, for instance, of film snobbery, or rather of passionate cinephiles being derided as snobs because of their willingness to read subtitles. The film industry does what it can in the autumn months to beckon them back into theaters with promises of “seriousness,” but a true snob will disdain obvious Oscar bait. If, that is, there are any true film snobs left. As subtitled movies grow scarcer on American screens, the traditional signifiers of snobbery grow scarce. Is a film snob someone who name-checks Pedro Costa, Michael Haneke or other international auteurs? Someone who drops the word “auteur” into a discussion of “Mad Max: Fury Road”? A person who admires Kristen Wiig, but only in her serious roles?
You see the problem. “Snob” is a category in which nobody would willingly, or at least unironically, claim membership. Like the related (and similarly complicated) term “hipster,” it’s what you call someone else. What some of my nearest and dearest, I might as well admit, call me. When I wrinkle my nose at a restaurant or roll my eyes at a movie that everyone else seems to be enjoying, the word comes accusatorily tripping off my children’s tongues, and I find myself at pains to explain that they are quite mistaken. A snob is a person who brandishes borrowed notions of distinction, whereas I — by temperament as well as by profession a critic — have devoted much of my life to the disinterested application of true standards of excellence. It’s the very opposite of snobbery. The difference should be self-evident.
Oddly enough, this argument is rarely convincing. And I find myself lately feeling less like a caricature — a prig in an ascot, a fuddy-duddy with a pipe or any of the other amusing types a Google image search will yield — than like a fossil, the last devotee of an obscure and obsolescent creed, or the only participant in an argument that has long since been settled. It seems to be an article of modern democratic faith that disputing taste is taboo: at best a lapse in manners, at worst an offense against feelings or social order (which sometimes seem to amount to the same thing). Our nation is at present riven by social inequality and polarized by ideology, but the last thing anyone wants to be called is an elitist.
That epithet has a political sting that the old one lacked, and “snob” is not wielded as readily as it used to be. Instead of food snobs — or “gourmets,” as they once called themselves — we now have foodies. Literary snobbery died when Jonathan Franzen fell out with Oprah and conquered the best-seller list anyway. The hot narrative art form of the moment, television, is genetically immune to snobbery. For most of modern history, the only way to be a TV snob was not to own a set. (Or maybe to say that you only watched PBS, not that anyone would have believed you.) The arrival of “serious,” “difficult” cable dramas and spiky, insidery comedies has not changed the essentially populist character of the medium. We all have our binge watches, our guilty pleasures, and our relationship to them is less exclusive than evangelical. Television is horizontal rather than hierarchal.
And the flowering of television coincides with the digital transformation of cultural consumption, a great leveling force that turns a forbidding landscape of steep crags and hidden valleys into a sunlit plain of equivalence. The world of the Yelp score, the Amazon algorithm and the Facebook thumb is a place of liking and like-mindedness, of niches and coteries and shared enthusiasms, a Utopian zone in which everyone is a critic and nobody is a snob because nobody’s taste can be better than anyone else’s.
That’s the theory, anyway. But permit me a moment of dissent, even if I risk looking like a reactionary nostalgist. My meditations here are partly inspired by the current New York Film Festival, a lively and venerable annual event whose birth, in 1963, represented the high-water mark of film snobbery in America, both as something to be mocked and something to be proclaimed and celebrated. Opening with Luis Buñuel’s elegantly antibourgeois “The Exterminating Angel,” the first New York Film Festival included work by Ozu and Bresson, Resnais and Polanski. (And also a lot of films by lesser-known directors.) Over the rest of the decade, the festival would become a port of entry for films from Europe and Asia, and also an annual exposition of a vibrant and uncompromisingly — what? There’s no neutral word: Sophisticated? Advanced? Radical? Self-regarding — film culture in New York.
I was not around in those heady days, but I’ve done what I can to overcome that sad accident of birth. I have frequently fled from the vulgar amusements of the multiplex to the comfort of the Criterion Collection. I have savored “Anticipation of La Notte,” Phillip Lopate’s affectionately self-mocking memoir of his undergraduate infatuation with Michelangelo Antonioni and all he represented. I have furrowed my brow over Susan Sontag’s elegiac “A Century of Cinema,” which declared, in 1995, that it was all over, that the ardor and conviction of midcentury movie love would never be matched by later generations.
And I have winced at Pauline Kael’s near-contemporary demolition of the fantasies of the art-house audience in a famous essay of that title, first published in 1961 and reprinted a few years later in “I Lost It at the Movies,” which skewered a certain high-minded, right-thinking sector of the moviegoing public with such force and acuity that I can feel the sting after more than 50 years. “For several decades now,” she began, “educated people have been condescending toward the children, the shopgirls, all those with ‘humdrum’ or ‘impoverished’ lives — the mass audience — who turned to movies for ‘ready-made’ dreams. The educated might admit that they sometimes went to the movies for the infantile mass audience,” she allowed, then added, “but presumably they were not ‘taken in’; they went to get away from the tensions of their complex lives and work. But of course when they really want to enjoy movies as an art, they go to foreign films, or ‘adult’ or unusual or experimental American films.”
No more thorough anatomy of the cultural pretensions of the American liberal elite was ever written, and if anything, Kael’s broadside has the authority of an inside job. She knew these “educated” art-house customers. She had been to their houses, sampled their cooking, surveyed the handsome books on their coffee tables and the tasteful décor of their living rooms. She might even have been mistaken for one of them.
And of course her criticism is unanswerable, because it is predicated on an accusation of bad faith: It seems that her art-house patrons don’t really like what they claim to like; or else they like the right movies for the wrong reasons, seeking affirmation of their prejudices and assumptions rather than real challenges or true pleasures. Such shallowness is the very definition of snobbery, but the title of the essay cuts two ways. It may be a debunking of what certain self-deluding moviegoers think they are doing, but it is also Kael’s own fantasy about what those people, as a class, are really like.
In any case, broadly speaking, Kael’s position has prevailed. Condescension to the mass audience and its pleasures is not cool, or fashionable or politically correct. Populist entertainment sits comfortably alongside more rarefied aesthetic pursuits, not least at the New York Film Festival itself, which routinely makes room for big, awards-hungry Hollywood movies.
All of which is good. But the specter of snobbery still haunts our consumerist paradise. We have so much stuff to choose from, but each of us knows that some of it is more worthwhile than the rest, that there are standards and canons and serious arguments lurking in the pleasant meadows where we graze and browse.
What I’m trying to say is: Yes, fine, I am a snob. I revere the formal achievement of the first and most recent “Mad Max” movies. I sneer at most biopics and costume dramas. I like my pleasures slow and difficult. I would rather watch a mediocre film from South America or Eastern Europe about the sufferings of poor people than a mediocre Hollywood comedy about the inconveniences of the affluent. I look up in admiration at models of artistic perfection, sound judgment and noble achievement, and I look down on what I take to be the stupid, cheap and cynical aspects of public discourse. I sit at my cobbler’s bench and hammer away. If the words nerd and geek can be rehabilitated — if legions of misunderstood enthusiasts can march from the margins of respectability to the heart of the mainstream — then why not snob as well?
Who’s with me? Anyone? I’m really not that picky.
NYT Critics’ Pick
By A. O. SCOTTOCT. 1, 2015
A section of “Taxi” is devoted to an encounter between two Iranian filmmakers. One of them is Jafar Panahi, the director of this movie and one of the most internationally celebrated figures in contemporary Iranian cinema. The other is his niece Hana, a sharp-tongued tween who must make a short movie as part of a school assignment. The teacher has handed out a set of guidelines that are more or less consistent with the government’s censorship rules.
Mr. Panahi is a longstanding expert in such matters, with extensive firsthand knowledge of how Iranian authorities deal with filmmakers who displease them. In 2010, he was officially barred from pursuing his profession, and “Taxi” is the third feature he has made in defiance of — and also, cleverly, in compliance with — that prohibition.
The first, shot largely on a mobile-phone camera when Mr. Panahi was under intense legal pressure from the government in 2011, was“This Is Not a Film,” a meditation on cinema and freedom as nuanced as its title is blunt. It was followed by “Closed Curtain” (2014), a through-the-looking-glass hybrid of documentary and melodrama that explores the porous boundary between cinema and reality.
“Taxi,” which won the top prize at the Berlin Film Festival in February, takes up some of the same themes. It’s playful and thoughtful, informed by the director’s affable, patient, slightly worried demeanor. His kind face is almost always on screen, but he’s not a self-conscious presence like, say, Woody Allen (whose name is dropped) or Nanni Moretti. He’s a regular guy going about his day. What does it take to be a filmmaker? Maybe just curiosity, compassion and open eyes.
A camera, too, of course. Which hardly counts as special equipment these days. In “Taxi,” everybody has one, and the conceit of the movie is that its auteur is a humble cabdriver with a camera mounted on the dashboard of his car. He’s not really trying to fool anyone. Mr. Panahi is well known enough to be recognized by some of his passengers, most of whom may not really be passengers at all, but people he has cajoled into playing versions of themselves. A lot of what we see seems contrived. But then again, a lot of it seems spontaneous. It’s almost impossible to tell the difference until the brilliant final shot. But can you even call it a “shot” when the camera has been left running by
This kind of ambiguity is part of the fun: “Taxi” is full of wry jokes, surprising incidents and allusions to Mr. Panahi’s earlier work. He is a pretty bad taxi driver, unsure of the routes to well-known Tehran landmarks and less than diligent about collecting fares and delivering customers to their destinations. “I’ll let you out here and you can get another cab,” he says more than once. This creates a lot of turnover, and a series of “chance” encounters with fellow citizens, including a dealer in pirated DVDs (Mr. Panahi used to be one of his customers) and two older women carrying goldfish in an open glass bowl.
Those women may remind Mr. Panahi’s fans of “The White Balloon,” his first feature, which also involved a goldfish. “Taxi” abounds with similar reminders: anecdotes that recall episodes in “The Circle” and “Offside”; a glimpse of a man delivering pizza brings to mind “Crimson Gold”; Hana’s wait for her uncle to pick her up at school is an echo of “The Mirror.” This may sound like artistic vanity, but it’s actually a kind of humility. Mr. Panahi pulled those stories from the life that surrounded him, and that life — the bustle and contention of Tehran; the cruelty and hypocrisy of Iranian society; the kindness and tenacity of ordinary people — remains an inexhaustible reservoir of narrative possibilities.
And also a fertile breeding ground for cinema. Hana’s school project is just one of several movies tucked inside of “Taxi.” An old friend of Mr. Panahi’s shares a security video recording a crime committed against him. A man who has been in a motorbike accident, his bleeding head cradled in the lap of his anguished wife, asks Mr. Panahi to make a cellphone video of his last testament. Even the simplest, most unmediated records of human behavior are shaped, edited and manipulated. Everyone is a filmmaker.
“Taxi,” though, happens to be the work of a great one, one of the most humane and imaginative practitioners of the art currently working. “The Circle” was an unsparing look at the condition of women under the thumb of traditional patriarchy and religious dictatorship. “Crimson Gold” cast a harsh light on Iran’s economic inequalities and on its neglect of its military veterans. These films are powerful pieces of social criticism, but it is their combination of structural elegance with tough naturalism that places them among the essential movies of our time.
The same can be said about “Taxi,” which offers, in its unassuming way, one of the most captivating cinematic experiences of this year. Though it is gentle and meditative rather than confrontational, the film nonetheless bristles with topical concerns. It begins with a tense back-seat argument about the death penalty and eventually turns its gaze on poverty, violence, sexism and censorship. Like Mr. Panahi’s cab, his film is equipped with both windows and mirrors. It’s reflective and revealing, intimate and wide-ranging, compact and moving.
“Taxi” is not rated.
HERE'S SOME NICE ART FOR YOU TO LOOK AT....ENJOY!
WHY THE WORLD NEEDS EDITORS.....................
THE SAUDI’S ARE OUR ALLIES….AND WE SAY THING WHILE THEY DO STUFF LIKE THIS TO WRITERS.
Wife of Imprisoned, Lashed Saudi Blogger Speaks Out
Raif Badawi has been publicly flogged for running a blog that "insult[s] Islam"
By John Knefel October 1, 2015
Ensaf Haider, the wife of an imprisoned Saudi Arabian journalist, recently visited the United States as part of her ongoing campaign to free her husband, and to remind the world of Saudi Arabia's crackdown on peaceful dissidents.
Raif Badawi was jailed in 2012 and later publicly flogged for running a website called Free Saudi Liberals, and for publishing blog posts a court found to have "insulted Islam." He was also convicted of having violated an anti-cybercrime law because his site "infringe[d] on religious values."
Haider has for years been speaking out against her husband's imprisonment, hoping to pressure Saudi authorities to free him. His health is deteriorating, and without access to medical care he will continue to suffer the effects of the flogging, she says. Haider came to the United States, a close ally of Saudi Arabia, to speak with the media and members of Congress – 67 of whom signed a letter in March calling on Saudi Arabia's King Salman to release Badawi.
Haider wants President Obama to lobby for her husband's release as well. "I definitely hope [Obama] would have a personal conversation with King Salman and be able to persuade him to let Raif go free," she tells Rolling Stone through an interpreter.
In 2008, after founding his website, Badawi was detained for a day; the following year, the Saudi government placed a travel ban on him. A month before his 2012 arrest, he called for a "day for Saudi liberals," which his lawyer has suggested may have made him a target for the authorities.
In 2014, he was sentenced to ten years in prison and 1,000 lashes, to be dolled out 50 at a time. The first round of lashes came this January, in a public square in Jeddeh following Friday prayers. Badawi's sentence was upheld by Saudi Arabia's supreme court in June, thus foreclosing the possibility of any further appeals.
The first set of lashings left Badawi in such poor health that the authorities postponed a second round, though they could restart any week. "Every Friday I think of him, and I'm worried," says Haider. "Both physically and spiritually he's not doing well. It's been four years since he's seen his kids." She says Badawi is suffering from high blood pressure as a result of the lashings.
In a forward to his recently published book, 1,000 Lashes: Because I Say What I Think – a collection of his surviving blog posts – Badawi describes the bathroom in his prison as covered in excrement. "Raif tries not to tell me about the conditions in the prison, but I know cleanliness is an issue," Haider says. She says he doesn't have access to medical care.
Haider speaks with Badawi on the phone once or twice a week from Quebec, where she and their two children have been granted asylum.
Haider's comments come at a particularly sensitive time for Saudi Arabia, as the country faces increasing scrutiny for human rights abuses carried out domestically and abroad. A Saudi-led, U.S.-backed coalition has waged a six-month bombing campaign against Houthi insurgents in neighboring Yemen, resulting in the deaths of at least 2,100 civilians, including 400 children, according to Amnesty International.
Internally, Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses are just as gruesome. Much of the world has reacted in horror to news that the country has sentenced a young activist named Ali Mohammed Al-Nimr to death by beheading followed by crucifixion for attending a pro-democracy protest in 2012. A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department declined to comment to the Associated Press on that sentence, and praised Saudi's recent appointment to chair a UN human rights panel.
"Raif's case is part of a much larger crackdown on freedom of expression in Saudi Arabia since 2011," says Jasmine Heiss, a regional campaigner for Amnesty International, which facilitated Rolling Stone's interview with Haider. "The authorities have really intensified the arrest and repression of human rights defenders in the name of security. We know there are at least dozens of other prisoners of conscience; there may be up to thousands of persons in prisons and jails in Saudi Arabia for peaceably expressing their beliefs and for their work on human rights."
Haider says her husband never expected to be arrested for expressing his opinions. When asked what ordinary life was like before he was jailed, she lights up. "It's not in front of the media – but he was really a great husband, one of the best husbands I've known of, and also one of the best fathers," she says. "He was the person taking care of the kids inside the house, and taking them to school, and now suddenly he's stripped away from that, and I'm a single parent."
THE ART OF PULP
THE ART OF WAR...............................
The amazing power of kindness
By Greg Bell, For the Deseret News
Kindness, courtesy and the expression of human warmth are gifts, precious gems we too seldom meet with. Yet they are easily bestowed.
Kindness, courtesy and the expression of human warmth are gifts, precious gems we too seldom meet with. Yet they are easily bestowed.
While trying to wedge my folding canvas chair into an already full line of spectators at my grandson’s soccer game recently, a young mother next to me kept adjusting her own chair to make sure I got a comfortable place. Her concern was more than perfunctory. In the next few minutes, I observed her tender kindness and affectionate gestures as she interacted with her husband and children. The special feeling her example left me with has endured for weeks.
Kindness, courtesy and the expression of human warmth are gifts, precious gems we too seldom meet with. Yet they are easily bestowed. We may not reap an immediate return from our smile, kind word, manifest concern or sincere attention to another, but these gestures send messages that may linger far longer and with greater impact than we imagine. They are a welcome counterpoint to the cold, impersonal and even rude conduct we too often encounter.
In his peerless novels, Charles Dickens created frightfully vicious schoolmasters, industry bosses and orphanage overseers, many of whom were based on his own dark experiences in youth. However, he drew many kindly characters — like the incomparable debtor Wilbur Micawber — from the kind and generous souls who helped him along the way.
Helen Keller was rescued from a life of ignorance and isolation by Annie Sullivan, her angelically devoted teacher. Sullivan spent her entire subsequent life in Keller’s service. Andrew Carnegie’s parents loved him warmly. His doting uncle became his lifelong teacher and guide. Among his many mentors, partners and employees, Carnegie identified many highly considerate and unselfish friends. One exceptional boss elevated Carnegie at an unprecedented pace through the ranks of one of America’s foremost railway companies because of his confidence and trust in the young Scottish emigrant. On his way to fabulous success, John Jacob Astor, one of America’s first rags-to-riches heroes, met with many men and women of notable goodwill and kindness.
Early in the Civil War, a mere boy named Leander Stillwell left the farm to join the Union Army. In his fascinating personal account, "The Story of a Common Soldier of Army Life in the Civil War," he tells how the officers in his Illinois militia unit and two very considerate doctors treated him with exceptional kindness and consideration. His sergeant was a neighbor who watched over him with tender, almost fatherly, concern. In foraging the countryside, Stillwell met with some unfriendly people, but for the most part he was treated generously and respectfully, even by many families in the Confederacy.
One gleans from their lives that Carnegie, Astor, Keller, Stillwell and Nelson Mandela treated people, high and low, with great respect and courtesy. Stories of Abraham Lincoln’s kindness to all mankind are legion. The Dalai Lama acts consistently with his statement that “my religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”
Great people grasp the quintessential importance of treating others sincerely, kindly and courteously. This is the very core of Jesus Christ’s teachings. Christians who overlook them ignore the powerful example of his peerless life.
Almost everyone who has ever told me of meeting a famous or prominent person has described the encounter in terms of how the great person treated him or her. Yet, to that celebrity, the meeting may have been an inconsequential moment in a busy day.
The world at large rarely talks of these simple things. They are certainly not displayed in the violent, smart-mouthed movies and shows paraded before us as depictions of human life. Nor are you likely to find kindness, courtesy or personal warmth in an MBA curriculum. But in the real world, whether in business, at home, on the soccer pitch or any place or time when one human meets another, that encounter will often be judged as much by how they treat each other as by what they did.
President Ezra Taft Benson, the late president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, often said, “People don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” This little couplet precisely identifies a pivotal law in human relations. Young and old alike will profit greatly from observing this simple but enduring truth.
Greg Bell is the former lieutenant governor of Utah and the current president and CEO of the Utah Hospital Association.
There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.
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